Saturday , 25 February 2017

February 17, 2016 E-News

SENATE VOTE ON DRINKING WATER PRIVATIZATION BILL SCRAPPED – The vote on a bill written to help corporations buy municipal water systems was scrapped in the state Senate on Tuesday in the face of opposition from nearly 20 groups, including the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, which withdrew its support late last week. The only organizations registered in favor of the proposal were a state contractors association and the Pennsylvania water utility corporation that requested the legislation be introduced. “We all drink water and senators should think twice before taking away our rights to protect our community-owned drinking water supply facilities just because an out-of-state corporation asked them to,” said Kimberlee Wright, executive director of the public interest law firm Midwest Environmental Advocates.

WISCONSIN’S DRINKING WATER UTILITIES HAVE MANY CONNECTIONS – Wisconsinites are experiencing the power of water politics lately as politicians including Gov. Scott Walker and Racine Mayor John Dickert weigh in on the city of Waukesha’s ongoing bid to source drinking water from Lake Michigan. But even on a normal day, the distribution of drinking water ties Wisconsin’s major population centers together and shapes local economies and political dynamics. Local governments depend on and sometimes battle with each other to ensure access to drinking water sources and the infrastructure necessary for treatment. The poisoning of Flint, Michigan’s water supply — a direct consequence of that city leadership’s since-reversed decision to stop buying its water from Detroit — starkly underlines the importance of these relationships.

SENATE APPROVES AMENDED BILLS LOOSENING POLLUTION REGULATIONS – Two bills the state Senate approved Tuesday would bolster private property rights while loosening protections on thousands of bodies of water in Wisconsin. The far-reaching bills would order judges to give less weight to state agency expertise in lawsuits challenging pollution controls, make it easier for developers to eliminate wetlands, limit local powers over shoreline construction and end local moratoriums on developments posing possible environmental threats. A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the Assembly was expected on Thursday to approve a major revision of one of the bills.

WAUKESHA’S WATER REQUEST GETS LOOK FROM GREAT LAKES STATES, PROVINCES – Representatives of eight Great Lakes states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec will be in Waukesha on Wednesday and Thursday to get a firsthand look at the city asking for a Lake Michigan water supply. This request is unprecedented: Waukesha is the first community in the United States located entirely outside the Great Lakes basin to ask for a diversion of water under a 2008 federal law known as the Great Lakes protection compact. The city is about 1.5 miles west of the subcontinental divide marking the basin boundary. The compact prohibits Great Lakes water from being pumped beyond counties straddling its drainage basin. The City of Waukesha is in a straddling county, so it can ask for lake water to solve public health or environmental problems.

HIGH-CAPACITY WELL OPINION WOULD BREAK WITH CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST GUIDELINE – Attorney General Brad Schimel would need to go outside his office’s conflict-of-interest guidelines in order to issue an opinion sought by GOP lawmakers and dairy interests who want more high-capacity wells permitted with fewer conditions attached. Schimel’s fellow Republicans in the Legislature say the state is too slow in permitting wells that pump more than 100,000 gallons of water a day. At issue is a 2011 state Supreme Court decision that confirmed state regulators must take into account the cumulative harm that several high-capacity wells can cause to the environment. The legislators want Schimel to issue a formal opinion backing their position that a 2011 law restricting the authority of state regulators should take precedence.

EPA RELEASES SCIENTIFIC REPORT SHOWING U.S. COASTAL WATERS A MIX OF GOOD AND FAIR HEALTHEPA has released the 2010 National Coastal Condition Assessment showing that more than half of the nation’s coastal and Great Lakes nearshore waters are rated good for biological and sediment quality, while about one-third are rated good for water quality. In almost all coastal waters, however, contaminants in fish tissue pose a threat to sensitive predator fish, birds, and wildlife. The National Coastal Condition Assessment is part of a series of National Aquatic Resource Surveys (NARS) designed to advance the science of coastal monitoring and answer critical questions about the condition of waters in the United States.

EPA LAUNCHES NEW ONLINE TRAINING MODULE ON CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS ON WATER RESOURCES – EPA has released a new online training module, “Understanding Climate Change Impacts on Water Resources.” This training module is intended to increase water resource professionals’ understanding of the causes of climate change, its potential impacts on water resources, and the challenges that water resource professionals face. The module also describes how federal, state, tribal, and local governments and communities are working to make the United States more resilient to the impacts of climate. The 45-minute training is part of the EPA Watershed Academy Web certificate program.

QUOTE – “Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem.” Bill Vaughan `

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