Saturday , 18 November 2017

April 5, 2017 E-News

DNR TO STUDY POSSIBLE LINK BETWEEN FRAC SAND MINES, CONTAMINATED GROUNDWATER – The state Department of Natural Resources is planning to study whether heavy metals from ponds at Wisconsin frac sand mines are leaching into and contaminating groundwater. The study comes three years after water samples from some frac sand mine ponds showed concentrations of metals many times higher than state groundwater standards recommend. Areas like a section of land outside Arcadia, where the Tunnel City and Wonewoc sandstone formations meet, are especially rich in minerals containing heavy metals, according to Wisconsin Geological and Historical Survey geologist Jay Zambito. The minerals keep metals locked inside the rock formations, Zambito said. His theory is that when miners break up the rock, the minerals might dissolve. “You might be exposing minerals that can easily break down and those minerals — if they have trace metals present and those trace metals get into the water — the surface water then becomes poor quality and then it interacts with the groundwater, the groundwater then becomes lesser quality,” said Zambito.

USDA RESEARCHER WARNING KEWAUNEE COUNTY WELL OWNERS ABOUT CONTAMINATION – A scientist who’s looked into widespread well contamination in Kewaunee County says he’s now urging owners of tainted wells to find another water source. U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt recently published findings that indicate cow manure is the leading cause of groundwater pollution in Kewaunee County. But he found that human waste from sanitary systems is spoiling drinking water there, too. Borchardt told attendees at Environmental Law and Policy Center conference in Madison last week that he’s been making phone calls to the owners of the contaminated wells. “These folks, I’ve spent my evenings fairly stressed out calling them, saying, ‘you can’t drink your water.’ To find salmonella in a private well, in someone’s home, really shuts things down.” Borchardt said. He said his staff are out doing more water testing in Kewaunee County. So far, 26 wells they’ve tested are contaminated with cattle manure, 18 with human waste and three with both.

WISCONSIN SENATE DEBATES RELAXING WELL REGULATIONS – Republicans in the state Senate moved a bill that would relax Wisconsin’s high-capacity well regulations to the brink of passage Tuesday evening before Democrats used a procedural move to delay the final vote until Wednesday morning. The bill has been one of the most contentious pieces of legislation lawmakers have taken up so far this session. The measure would exempt well repairs, replacements, reconstructions and ownership transfers from Department of Natural Resources oversight. The DNR would have to evaluate water bodies in the central sands region to determine if special measures are needed to protect streams and lakes from depletion, but conservationists still see the measure as a giveaway to farmers that jeopardizes the state’s waters. The Senate took the measure up Tuesday afternoon. Minority Democrats spent nearly three hours criticizing the bill.

OREGON WATER TOWER BEING PRESERVED AND FOOD PANTRY GETS A NEW HOME – Randy Glysch set out to preserve the historic water tower and pump house in this village’s downtown. He had no idea it would lead to a new food pantry. The serendipity, thanks to an anonymous donor, means a more-than-100-foot-tall calling card dubbed “Tin Man” will remain and, in the fall, volunteers and those in need of food will no longer be crammed into a 1,200-square-foot unheated storage unit. Instead, they’ll have a 4,200-square-foot facility with not only heat but coolers, freezers, bathrooms, a waiting area, community room and plenty of shelves for boxes of cereal, bags of rice, cans of soup and other staples. A water tower and pump house have been fixtures in the community since 1899. The original water tower was constructed of wood for just more than $3,000 and held 15,000 gallons of water. The tower and tank were replaced in 1921 with what is referred to as “The Tin Man,” a steel tower and tank that holds 30,000 gallons of water and rises 100 feet above the village’s downtown, which is also home to a World War I monument erected in 1920 by a team of six horses and dozens of men.

WISCONSIN LAWMAKERS PUSH DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES CHIEF TO KEEP POPULAR MAGAZINE – Republican and Democratic lawmakers say they are fielding an onslaught of complaints about plans by the Department of Natural Resources to pull the plug on its venerable natural resources magazine. Legislators on the budget committee told DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp Thursday they believed the decision to cease publication of the magazine was shortsighted and takes away an important tool for the agency to communicate to the public. Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine, which is self-supporting with a circulation of more than 82,000, is expected to stop publishing next February. Since the announcement, the department has been flooded with new subscription requests.

DNR’S CATHY STEPP DEFENDS HER RECORD ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND POLLUTION – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources secretary Cathy Stepp defended her agency’s record on climate change and environmental protection during a legislative hearing Thursday on Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed 2017-19 budget. The department is making progress fixing shortcomings in enforcement of water quality laws by reallocating employees, so legislators don’t need to be concerned that Walker’s plan calls for further cuts in agency staff, Stepp told members of the Joint Finance Committee. But Democratic lawmakers pointed to dwindling financial penalties faced by polluters in recent years, and they scoffed when Stepp denied that insufficient staffing or leniency was behind the decrease. Stepp said since Walker appointed her in 2011 she has brought customer-friendly private-sector principles at the agency. Now, instead of fearing the department, business operators view it as “a safe space” where they seek advice that helps them comply with regulations and avoid environmental violations.

QUOTE– “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely.”-  Franklin D. Roosevelt

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