Saturday , 25 February 2017

August 10, 2016 E-News

PRESIDENT DECLARES DISASTER FOR STATE OF WISCONSIN – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Wisconsin to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the area affected by severe storms and flooding during the period of July 11-12, 2016. The President’s action makes federal funding available to state, tribal, local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the affected by severe storms and flooding in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Florence, Iron, Sawyer, and Washburn counties; and the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe. Federal funding is available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the State of Wisconsin.

LEAD SERVICE LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM EXPANDS TO COVER 38 COMMUNITIES – A first-of-its kind program to replace lead service lines on qualifying private properties is being expanded to ensure funds are available for all 38 communities that requested assistance through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The DNR conceived the funding program earlier this year following a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to allow the state greater flexibility in allocating loan funds for water infrastructure projects. DNR initially received approval from the EPA to make $11.8 million available to disadvantaged municipalities to help remove old lead service lines that bring drinking water into homes. However, when the number and size of requests submitted by the June 30 deadline exceeded the initial financing authority, DNR sought and received approval from EPA to increase the funding to $14.5 million, fully funding all municipalities that applied for the first year of the two-year program. Under the program, municipalities determine how to distribute the funds.

FAILURE AT THE FAUCET: WATER WOES EMERGE AS MAJOR ISSUE IN WISCONSIN ELECTIONS – Wisconsin voters’ concerns about pollution in lakes and streams, contamination of drinking water supplies and depleted aquifers are transforming water into a key campaign issue in this fall’s elections, including the race between Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and former Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold. In Wisconsin, water worries have increased in response to shifts toward large-scale livestock farming and growing knowledge about the threats that lead and other contaminants pose in various regions. Residents of Kewaunee County and the Central Sands region of the state — two of the areas most vulnerable to groundwater pollution — are demanding answers from politicians who acknowledge they cannot afford to ignore water issues if they want to keep their seats in the 2016 election.

DNR BOARD OKS SHRUNKEN CLEAN-WATER PLAN – The state Department of Natural Resources policy board on Wednesday approved limited plans for reducing manure contamination of public waters despite complaints about excessive dairy industry influence and worries the department won’t have staff to enforce any new rules. “We need money to get these things done,” Natural Resources Board chairman Terry Hilgenberg said after the vote. “Unfortunately, we as a board have nothing to say about how much money comes in.” It will be up to lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to decide whether to bring staffing levels up to what DNR officials say they need and provide resources to more closely monitor pollution under new rules that are to be written over the next two years.

BOTH AG INDUSTRY AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SUPPORT NEW STANDARDS FOR MANURE SPREADING – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be revising state standards for manure spreading in geographic areas prone to water contamination. Both agricultural and environmental groups said they support a scope statement for the revision that was approved by the Natural Resources Board on Wednesday. But some conservation groups feel the scope of the changes is too narrow, and doesn’t provide enough revision for concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs. “Unfortunately, I think the problem is much bigger and we still have a lot of work to do to revise the CAFO rules and regulations that apply statewide,” said Elizabeth Wheeler, senior staff attorney for Clean Wisconsin. “There are a lot of areas in the state that continue to be plagued with water quality issues and those will not be addressed by this rulemaking.” A DNR representative told board members that officials had removed CAFO rule revisions from the scope statement in order to develop and approve changes more quickly.

DNR BOARD APPROVES DISPUTED WISCONSIN RIVER PLAN – The state Natural Resources Board on Wednesday approved a master plan for a 92-mile stretch of the lower Wisconsin River despite concerns that it includes a site for a shooting range, calls for reduced public access and doesn’t do enough to preserve water quality. Wisconsin Wildlife Federation executive director George Meyer urged the board to consider making changes suggested by members of the Friends of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway to gain control of more agricultural property that contributes nutrient pollution. The plan has also been criticized for including a possible site for a shooting range and for road closures that will create detours and reduce access to riverfront wildlife areas for people with disabilities.

QUOTE– “It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance.” – Thomas Sowell

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