Saturday , 18 November 2017

February 9, 2017 E-News

EPA OKS SLOWER ROLLOUT OF WATER RULES FOR WISCONSIN – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a bid by Wisconsin officials to allow a slower rollout of rules limiting the discharge of a dominant pollutant into waterways. The EPA notified the Department of Natural Resources on Monday that it will allow the state to phase in tougher regulations to limit the discharge of phosphorus from point sources such as sewage treatment plants and factories. Phosphorus is a major ingredient that feeds algae that clog many Wisconsin lakes. In its latest assessment, the DNR in 2016 concluded that 41% of more than 7,700 waters in the state violated water standards for phosphorus. The action has been in the works by the EPA for months and is not seen as being influenced by the administration of President Donald Trump, who has promised to cut back on environmental regulations. Wisconsin approved tougher phosphorus regulations that took effect in 2010 in the final days of the administration of Gov. Jim Doyle. The EPA approved those changes. A 2015 analysis by the DNR and state Department of Administration estimated the cost at more than $7 billion over the next 20 years.

BILL TO GIVE MILWAUKEE AND OTHER CITIES OPTIONS FOR REPLACING LEAD PIPES – Milwaukee and other cities around Wisconsin would get new tools for replacing lead water pipes, under draft legislation being circulated to lawmakers. The proposal by state Sen. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) wouldn’t provide local officials with any new state money to address an issue made infamous by the recent poisoning of children in Flint, Mich., by lead in that city’s drinking water. But the bill would give local water utilities more flexibility from state rules as they seek to do the work themselves. The proposal would allow a city council and water utility to provide financial assistance for replacing the lead service lines to someone’s house or apartment building, potentially helping ordinary homeowners afford the upgrade.

GOV. SCOTT WALKER MULLS SHIFT IN CAFO REGULATION – Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday proposed higher fees at popular state parks and called for a study on whether to move regulation of large farms from the Department of Natural Resources to the state agriculture department. In his 2017-’19 state budget, Walker also endorsed a plan to reorganize the DNR as proposed by Secretary Cathy Stepp — but not split the agency into different units as some lawmakers are calling for. In a move that will likely invite controversy, Walker is directing the DNR and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection to conduct a feasibility study of shifting the permitting of concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, to agriculture. This, too, is likely to raise questions, since the DNR is responsible for enforcing state water protection laws. The agriculture department has some environmental responsibilities but also serves as a proponent of agriculture.

BAD SCIENCE? GROWERS’ WATER-USE THEORIES DISPUTED – With legislators poised to once again take up groundwater protection measures this year, a farm group at the heart of the debate has mounted a campaign to blunt criticism that growers are to blame for dwindling lakes and streams in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin. The “main goal,” Tamas Houlihan, the executive director of the Wisconsin Potato & Vegetable Growers Association, said in an email to members is to “head off local activist pressure on county and town boards to prevent them from passing irrational resolutions or writing letters to the legislature which could have a negative impact on our legislation efforts.” The group is distributing what it calls a “high-capacity wells fact book” to local and state officials to spread its two-fold message. But opponents are throwing cold water on the science and turned out in hefty numbers as they confronted growers at meetings in Portage and Waupaca counties. That prompted the industry to scuttle upcoming sessions in counties where irrigation is growing.

WRWA’s 2017 EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE SEMINAR – This annual event brings in experts from state & local agencies and the water & wastewater industries to discuss ways to prepare for and respond to disaster situations. This year’s agenda includes Regulatory Updates, Challenges in Emergency Management, Dealing with Customers in an Emergency Situation, Emergency Disinfection/Public Notification, Chemical Safety and Risk Assessment/Emergency Response Plans. The seminar is being held in Plover on February 15th, to register go to-

QUOTE – “Being powerful is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”-  Margaret Thatcher

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David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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