Saturday , 18 November 2017

April 26, 2017 E-News

WISCONSIN WILL FACE HUGE WATER INFRASTRUCTURE PROBLEM – A new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers says Wisconsin will have $7 billion in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure needs in the next 20 years. The state is already facing water problems, such as the pollution of nearly one-third of private wells in Kewaunee County and the possible contamination of nearly 2,000 La Crosse County wells, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Bill Davis, the head of the Wisconsin Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter, said things like allowing more concentrated animal feeding operations and high-capacity well regulations jeopardize groundwater quality. The issue of traces of pharmaceutical drugs found in drinking water and tens of thousands of lead pipes still carrying drinking water to Wisconsin homes are areas Davis said state and local governments need to address.

WAUKESHA WINS APPEAL OF LAKE MICHIGAN WATER DIVERSION PLAN – Waukesha’s Lake Michigan diversion cleared another hurdle Thursday. The Great Lakes Compact Council, made up of representatives from all eight Great Lakes states, unanimously voted not to reopen or modify the approval it gave last summer. Under the plan, Waukesha will be able to divert an average of 8.2 million gallons of Lake Michigan water per day and return treated wastewater to the lake via the Root River. But the fight may not be over for opponents, who say legal action could be next. An attorney for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which brought forward the appeal, said the group will determine next steps after reviewing the council’s written decision.

STATE OKS PUMPING OF 1 BILLION GALLONS FROM VULNERABLE AQUIFERS– Since October, Wisconsin has approved requests from businesses for a billion gallons per month in new groundwater withdrawals from locations where the state’s own experts warned that higher pumping levels could be expected to harm vulnerable lakes, streams and drinking water supplies. The increase was added by revising dozens of permits for high-capacity wells after regulations were relaxed in June at the urging of business groups and Republicans who control state government. Meanwhile, the state Assembly is poised for a final vote on removing yet another layer of groundwater protection next month by ending the limited environmental reviews still allowed for certain existing wells.

NOBODY SPEAKS IN FAVOR OF MONROE COUNTY SAND PROCESSING PLANT AT DNR HEARING – Meteor Timber didn’t have any friends Tuesday at a public hearing in Tomah. None of the 18 people who testified during a Department of Natural Resources hearing spoke in favor of the Georgia timber company’s permit application to fill 16.4 acres of wetland to construct a sand processing and loading facility. Opposition ranged from hostility toward hydraulic fracturing for extracting oil and natural gas to concerns about disrupting the peace and quiet of the rural countryside. “We should stop all permitting to all stages of frac sand mining until there are appropriate independent studies that are completed and reviewed,” said Janice Kenyon of rural Ontario. The DNR has tentatively approved the permit, which includes filling 13 acres of “pristine” hardwood swamp. Meteor plans to dismantle two cranberry operations on the 752-acre property, eliminate four impoundments and restore 2,000 feet of stream. Meteor has also proposed to preserve 640 acres of other “high-quality wetlands” and restore 58 acres at other sites.

ANALYZING THE ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF SAND MINES VERSUS THE SOCIAL COSTS – Sand mines in Jackson County have become a large part of the local economy, providing good paying jobs to many residents in the area, but many argue that this economic benefit has a social cost. The unemployment rate for February in Jackson County is sitting at 5.4 percent, which is above the 3.7 percent employment rate for the state of Wisconsin. Behind this strong unemployment rate are hundreds of employers in the county, including its six sand mines. Mining-dependent areas have been studied significantly and provide a lot of warning signs for communities that are considering an increased mining presence.

SETTING A WATER POLLUTION BUDGET FOR 3 TROUBLED WISCONSIN COUNTIES – Northeastern Wisconsin, including Kewaunee County, has one of the worst water pollution problems in the state. But the Department of Natural Resources says setting a maximum daily limit on chemicals like phosphorus may be a step toward clean-up. The DNR has been holding meetings to explain the concept of creating a “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) for Lake Michigan tributaries in Kewaunee, Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties. It’s the amount of pollution a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards. A pollution budget is allocated for point sources like industrial pipes and non-point sources like farm run-off.       State Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, is promoting the effort, saying it may help farmers pinpoint where they need to control phosphorus. “So if they know which fields they really need to focus on, and they can make efforts on those fields, I think that’s where you can get a lot of benefit,” he said. Kitchens said the effort is likely to stay voluntary, but he contends many farmers are eager to sign up for grants and other cost-sharing programs.

DNR WORKS TO MONITOR BIG FARMS – There are about 280 concentrated animal feeding operations in Wisconsin, with another 20 in the application process. With such a large number of big farms, ensuring each farm remains in compliance can be a challenge for the Department of Natural Resources, the agency that oversees large farms. The application process for each of these farms is extensive, DNR officials say. To become certified initially, a farm must have all of its facility plans approved by a licensed engineer and then DNR engineers review the plans to verify they meet the capacities required for the amount of animal units that will be housed on the farm. An existing farm looking to get its permit renewed has to have its facilities inspected and certified that they still meet the standards. “There are a lot of farms expanding and adding new buildings and animals, having larger nutrient-management plans and more land, so we have definitely stepped up enforcement and the process,” said Bob Rohland, a DNR agriculture specialist responsible for seven western Wisconsin counties. “At the same time, the number of farms and the size of the farm has greatly increased, but we are a lot better off than where we were a year ago.”

CYBERSECURITY TRAINING SURVEY – NRWA is partnering with the Automation Federation to develop custom training for the water & wastewater industry.  This will take place in the form of Cybersecurity Awareness Training and a training session on – Recognizing and Preventing Cybersecurity Attacks.  This will be hands-on technical training for utility personnel in change of operating or managing SCADA and network systems. In order to develop the training materials and document the needs of our industry, NRWA/AF is asking that water industry representatives provide input by completing a survey at It will only take about 5 minutes to complete and will help in the development of meaningful and effective training to help protect water & wastewater infrastructure.

26TH WATER SUPPLY REGULATORY AFFAIRS SEMINAR – Don’t miss this annual event that is hosted cooperatively with WRWA, MEG-Water, AWWA, DNR and PSC on May 3rd in Madison WI. This year’s seminar includes PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch, PSC Regulatory Update, Clean Wisconsin’s High Capacity Well Permit Litigation, Kewaunee County Task Force, Alan Roberson- Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, DNR Update, Construction Authorization: Lessons Learned, and Lead Service Line Ordinances Panel Discussion. For a copy of the agenda and registration information go to

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT AND UTILITY DAY IN MADISON – All Wisconsin city & village officials and staff are invited to participate in a half day of advocacy and networking in Madison on May 10. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is teaming up this year with several other municipal organizations, including Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Rural Water Association, MEG — Water, and MEG — Wastewater for the first ever Municipal Government and Utility Day at the state capitol. The focus of the day will be on the critical role that municipal infrastructure plays in growing the state’s economy. There is no cost for municipal officials and staff to attend the luncheon or to participate in any aspect of the Municipal Government and Utility Day at the State Capitol. For more information and to register go to

QUOTE – “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”- Henry Ford

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David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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