by Jenny Seifert
The future of the Yahara Watershed takes center stage in a new documentary born of a partnership between the UW-Madison’s Water Sustainability and Climate project (WSC) and Wisconsin Public Television (WPT). Called “Yahara Watershed: A Place of Change,” the show will debut on Thursday, September 1st at 7:30pm on WPT.
Will technological advances save the Yahara watershed? Illustration: John Miller
Nearly five-years in the making, the thirty-minute documentary features the research conducted by the WSC project team (Steve Carpenter and Corinna Gries from the Center for Limnology are two of the six principal investigators on the project) which is studying the impacts of changes in climate and land-use on freshwater resources and other natural benefits in the Yahara Watershed.
The show focuses on challenges related to the co-existence of agriculture and urban life in the region, as well as an innovative way of investigating what these challenges and their potential solutions could mean for the future of its water and people.
“Having WPT integrated into our WSC project from the beginning has allowed us to showcase interdisciplinary research from a perspective that differs significantly from our traditional reporting of research in scientific journals,” says Christopher Kucharik, lead principal investigator for the WSC project and a professor of agronomy and environmental studies at UW-Madison.
As this map shows, land in the Yahara Watershed is used for all sorts of purposes, from agriculture to development to public open space. Managing the area for these mixed uses is a challenge.
The partnership sprouted fortuitously through a personal connection just as the research team was assembling the proposal for the National Science Foundation grant they eventually received. While no one knew exactly how the documentary would unfold at the time, the end result is a critical component of the project’s outreach portfolio.
“This affords us a unique opportunity to reach a much broader audience through a storytelling lens,” says Kucharik.
The partnership also serves WPT’s mission to contextualize issues affecting Wisconsinites and improve the public understanding and application of that knowledge, explains Christine Sloan-Miller, executive producer of news and public affairs at WPT.
“Since water science affects us all, and climate science is rapidly becoming the most pressing area of study for the future, it was a natural partnership opportunity. Our job is to shine light on the relevant issues to enable a wider, more well-informed dialogue,” says Sloan-Miller.
Click here for additional air times.