UT Water Task Force established to address ongoing Lake Erie challenges

September 3, 2014 | News, UToday, Engineering, Languages, Literature and Social Sciences, Law, Medicine and Life Sciences, Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Research, UT Health



Building on resident faculty expertise focused on researching the causes and effects of algal blooms, the health of Lake Erie and the health of the communities depending on its water, UT officials announced the creation of a University of Toledo Water Task Force.

Comprised of faculty and researchers spanning the University’s colleges, UT Medical Center and UT Lake Erie Center, the UT Water Task Force will serve as a resource for officials at all levels of government as well as a coordinating group to organize decades of existing UT Lake Erie research and ongoing related investigative efforts on water resource management and water quality.

“As a public research university, Ohio taxpayers and U.S. taxpayers have invested in our researchers focused on the Great Lakes and water quality, in general. We have a tremendous return on that investment to offer, and this task force is an effort to create a single portal that governments and organizations can look to for answers and expertise,” said Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT vice president for government relations and chief of staff to the president, who is chairing the task force.

“From water treatment, testing and filtration to public health issues, to effects on wildlife to the laws and policies of the Great Lakes, The University of Toledo has been literally immersed in Lake Erie research for decades,” said Dr. William Messer, UT vice president for research, who is a member of the task force.

Last month, UT hosted an open forum for the public to share data on the causes of and possible solutions to the ongoing algal blooms in Lake Erie.

“During the past 15 years, UT has made strategic investments in our environmental sciences, environmental engineering and medicine. Today, the result of that investment is tremendous depth and interdisciplinary breadth in environmental research at UT, leading to an extensive body of knowledge on algae and water quality, and a wide-ranging network of regional, national and international partnerships with academic and governmental organizations,” UT Interim President Nagi Naganathan said.

“Given our unique location on Lake Erie, this is not only an opportunity to affirm our role as one of the nation’s foremost leaders on the health of the Great Lakes, but also to demonstrate that it is a responsibility we take seriously. We look forward to working closely with our regional partners such as BGSU and others, as we strive for sustainable solutions to improve the human condition.”

Naganathan and Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins addressed the task force at its first meeting in August where the mayor said he and the city were committed to working with UT to move toward a long-term solution.

Members of the task force, who connect to other faculty both on campus and at other universities, are:

• Dr. Frank Calzonetti, UT Water Task Force chair, vice president for government relations and chief of staff to the president, and professor in the Department of Geography and Planning;

• Dr. April Ames, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine;

• Dr. Thomas Bridgeman, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences;

• Dr. Kevin Czajkowski, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning;

• Dr. Daryl Dwyer, associate professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and director of the Stranahan Arboretum;

• Dr. Kevin Egan, associate professor in the Department of Economics;

• Dr. Cyndee Gruden, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering;

• Dr. Isabel Escobar, professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and interim associate dean of research, development and outreach in the College of Engineering;

• Kenneth Kilbert, professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Law;

• Dr. Patrick Lawrence, professor and chair of the Department of Geography and Planning, who led a restoration project of the Ottawa River;

• Chuck Lehnert, vice president for corporate relations;

• Dr. William Messer, vice president for research;

• Dr. Neil Reid, professor in the Department of Geography and Planning, and director of the Urban Affairs Center;

• Dr. Youngwoo Seo, associate professor in the Department of Civil Engineering;

• Dr. Carol Stepien, Distinguished University Professor of Ecology in the Department of Environmental Sciences and director of the Lake Erie Center;

• Dr. Akira Takashima, professor and chair of the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology; and

• Dr. Michael Valigosky, assistant professor in the Department of Public Health and Preventative Medicine.