A look at the future: "Yahara Watershed" in 2070

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Posted Wednesday, May 14, 2014 -- 10:30 p.m.

It was a packed house on campus tonight as researchers at UW-Madison presented their results of what they predicted the Yahara Watershed could look like in the future.

The project is called "Yahara 2070" and -- just as the name suggests -- focuses on predicting the future of the watershed up to the year 2070, according to Steve Carpenter, director of UW's center for limnology.

"We need to look at very different outcomes for the watershed, hence for scenarios," Carpenter said.

According to Carpenter, those four scenarios are "Abandonment & Renewal", which focuses on a situation where society doesn't do enough to deal with accelerated environmental change; "Accelerated Innovation", which imagines a world where larger investments are made in education and technological innovation; "Connected Communities", which explores a societal change in values, and "Nested Watersheds", which deals with a situation where "governance changes to manage water in a much better way".

Carpenter said that these are all realistic situations that are important to think about, because change is needed.

"Everybody wants better water quality, we're just barely keeping pace with adverse changes."

Steve Laubach, who attended the presentation, agrees.

"It's a manageable time frame for us to envision," he said.

Laubach works at UW-Madison himself, and is also a father of two children.

"I also have two young kids, ages five and nine, so my wife and I are always thinking about their future," Laubach said.

It's a future that could be a lot different in the Yahara Watershed if nothing is done to keep it in tact.