Subaqueous Industrial Waste in Western Wisconsin Lakes:
Reducing/Redirecting the Dredged Materials from Landfills
This undergraduate research project proposes to investigate various ways of redirecting
(by recycling/composting) subaqueous industrial waste. Presently these industrial waste
sites, located in many Wisconsin lakes, are being considered for dredging and the waste
is headed for landfills. The industrial waste is a by-product of the sawmill era, which used lakes as both a holding pond for their logs and a place to deposit waste. The research program will look at two Western Wisconsin lakes as test cases: Half Moon Lake in Eau
Claire County and Rib Lake in Taylor County.
B. Statement of Objectives:
1. Locate, identify, and map industrial waste (organic sediment thickness) in Half Moon and Rib Lake, Wisconsin.
2. To help local governing and regulatory bodies to make informed decisions on how to dispose/recycle their subaqueous industrial waste (e.g. evaluate if composting is a viable option).
3. To prepare for future graduate school research opportunities by actively planning and conducting a scientific research project.
4. Collaborate with local agencies including the City of Eau Claire, Village of Rib Lake, Department of Natural Resources, , and the UW- Extension. Taylor County.
C. Project Description:
The early history of Half Moon Lake and Rib Lake involved the lumber and tanning industries. Lumber companies used these sites for decades during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Billions
of board feet of lumber passed through the lakes and were sawed at local mills. Early citizens and industries used the local natural resources with little regard for the negative environmental
impact they were causing. The industries dumped their industrial wastes of sawdust, bark slabs, tanning residues, animal wastes, and saw logs into the lake (Borland 1960, 1965; Half Moon Lake Restoration Committee 1973; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1980). This practice has added up to 10 meters of industrial waste in the lakes (Jol and Albrecht, 2004). As a
result of past dumping of waste, the lakes are in an eutrophic state—excess plant growth—due to the nutrient rich organic waste (Ayres Associates, 1997, 1998, 1999). Multiple community
partners are actively seeking ways to clean up these lake environments since past studies showing that removing the sediment (dredging) would reduce nutrient recycling which create a
significant weed problem and algae blooms (Half Moon Lake Restoration Committee 1973; Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, 1980, Ayres Associates, 1997, 1998, 1999). Additionally, the deepening of the lake would probably improve the water quality and fishery. The first phase of the project is to better understand the location and thickness of the waste deposits. This phase will include: i) interpreting and analyzing aerial photographs, ii) collecting (where necessary), interpreting and analyzing subsurface stratigraphic data using ground penetrating radar (GPR), iii)collecting locational data obtained from global positing systems (GPS), iv) collecting and analyzing subsurface core data, and v) collating and interpreting the collected data sets to produce maps of industrial waste thickness. Our goals in this phase are to identify a method that can estimate the volume of the organic waste that if removed/dredged would be directed to a landfill. During the second phase, possible solutions to the beneficial use of the industrial byproduct will be pursued including preliminary testing of the waste material for composting and conducting experiments that would look at developing an efficient method of drying the saturated organic
waste sediment. If successful the industrial by-product would not be land filled.
D. Research Design
For this project the pulseEKKOTM 100 and 1000 GPR systems manufactured by Sensors and Software Inc., will be used to accurately locate the industrial waste. High-resolution cross-sectional images of the stratigraphy of the lakebed and subbottom can be obtained using GPR (Figure 1; Jol and Smith, 1991; Jol and Bristow, 2003). GPR is a fairly noninvasive method of collecting data for Half Moon Lake. With different antennae the GPR can effectively “see” several meters through materials deposited on the lake bottom. Different antennae of different frequencies can “reveal” different layering and reflectivity of underlying materials (Jol, 1995). Also a Trimble ProXR Differential GPS, with submeter accuracy, will be utilized to correlate GPR data with GPS data to provide GPR
transects that are georeferenced. GPR data is then downloaded and “rubber sheeted” to fit the exact distances recorded by the GPS along many points of the GPR line. The rubber sheeting effect allows for accurate and “real time” processing of the GPR data effectively
pinpointing areas of large concentrations of industrial waste (Figure 1). Core samples from the industrial byproduct will be collected using a vibracorer and then transported and analyzed at the University of Minnesota core facilities (or alternative site).
Figure 1- The profile provides an example of the imaging capabilities of the ground penetrating radar (GPR)
technique the yellow layer is interpreted as organic waste material below the lake (blue). The green and orange
layers are interpreted as former lake bottom materials (probably being gravels and/or bedrock).
For phase two, several in-house documents exist that show the industrial byproducts have
been tested for a variety of parameters (e.g. Ayres Associates, 1997, 1998, 1999). The
project will meet with partners, collect all reports and collate the information so that a
comparison and industrial byproduct characterization can be made with Chapter NR 538.3(Beneficial Use of Industrial Byproducts). Discussions with various organizations and
individuals as well as an extensive library research will look at other possible alternative
approaches to utilizing the organic waste. In collaboration with local partners, the project proposes the collection the organic waste from the lake bottom (permission/permit has been approved) and to begin composting and drying the material in various ways. All data storage, data analysis, interpretation and writing of reports will occur at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.