Saturday , 18 November 2017

June 21, 2017 E-News

NEARLY 600 RURAL ORGANIZATIONS SIGNIFY OPPOSITION TO WHITE HOUSE PROPOSAL FOR USDA REORGANIZATION AND BUDGET REQUEST– Today, nearly 600 organizations sent a letter to Congress opposing the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Under Secretary for Rural Development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The letter also lamented draconian cuts to rural development programs in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget request that would severely impact people from economically distressed rural communities. Signatures came from organizations located all around the country, and included community development organizations; nonprofit housing developers; state and national trade associations; farmer and agriculture cooperatives; affordable housing organizations; city governments; universities; and tribal governments.  “Rural Development has a proven track record of success in providing targeted support in the form of technical assistance grants and direct financial assistance to America’s hardworking rural families,” said Bob Rapoza, executive secretary of the National Rural Housing Coalition. “Even so, rural Americans still face significant challenges to economic prosperity.”

WISCONSIN DNR EMPLOYEES EXPRESSED CONCERNS ABOUT WELLS, COURT DOCUMENTS SHOW– Employees of the Department of Natural Resources expressed concerns in emails in 2015 and 2016 about potential harm to lakes and streams from the construction of new wells in areas where irrigation was already widespread, court records filed on Friday show. The emails were included in the latest documents of a 2016 lawsuit by an environmental group and lake association that challenged a major shift in state policy that weakened the regulation of high-capacity wells. The October 2016 suit contends the DNR violated the Wisconsin Constitution and ignored other state laws and court cases after the agency announced it would no longer examine applications of large-scale wells by taking into account the impact of other nearby wells.

SCOTT WALKER TO SIGN BILL LIMITING STATE AGENCY RULEMAKING POWER – Gov. Scott Walker’s office said he expects to sign a bill giving a state legislative panel the power to block proposed environmental and other rules put forth by state agencies. “Governor Walker thanks the Legislature for sharing his commitment to bold regulatory reform and looks forward to signing the bill into law,” Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said. The state Assembly passed the bill Wednesday on a 62-34 vote. The state Senate passed the bill last month. Under the bill, which supporters call the REINS Act, state agencies could not impose rules projected to cost businesses or local governments more than $10 million. Lawmakers and the governor would have to enact a law instead. Supporters of the bill, which include Republicans and business groups, have said it would have prevented environmental-protection rules that proved costly to businesses, such as the state Department of Natural Resources’ 2010 phosphorus rule.

WISCONSIN PARTNERS WITH WEST VIRGINIA IN EFFORT TO LIMIT IMPACT OF FEDERAL WATERS OF THE U.S. RULE– Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel is partnering with West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey in an effort to push back against federal environmental regulations they say infringe on states’ authority. Schimel and Morrissey led a group of 20 states that sent a letter this week to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt seeking changes and clarifications to the EPA’s “waters of the U.S.” rule, implemented under then-President Barack Obama’s administration and currently under review. The rule seeks to define which bodies of water fall under the authority of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers and are covered by the Clean Water Rule. Proponents of the rule say it seeks to protect the country’s clean water supply, while opponents say it oversteps federal authority and is overly broad in the bodies of water it includes.

CENTRAL SANDS WATER ACTION COALITION SUPPORTS THE HIGH-CAPACITY WELL LEGAL CHALLENGE– Clean Wisconsin and the Pleasant Lake Management District have filed a legal challenge against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The litigation addresses the agency’s continued neglect of its granted authority to issue high-capacity well permits that protect water quality and quantity and duty to protect the waters of Wisconsin. Today, on behalf of the Central Sands Water Action Coalition (CSWAC),

Midwest Environmental Advocates filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in support of the litigation. In October 2016, Clean Wisconsin challenged nine high-capacity well applications approved by the DNR. Most of the wells are in the Central Sands region. CSWAC is concerned about the continued negative impact high-capacity well pumping hason lakes, streams, wetlands and other surface waters. “CSWAC’s members have seen firsthand how high-capacity wells can impact lake and stream levels,” said CSWAC Chairman Skip Hansen.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS SUE WISCONSIN DNR OVER MONROE COUNTY FRAC SAND PERMITS – Two environmental protection groups have challenged the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ approval of a Monroe County frac sand operation. Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin are seeking reviews of the decision last month to grant Meteor Timber permits to fill 16.25 acres of wetlands to make way for a proposed $65 million processing and loading facility that would serve a nearby mining site the Georgia investment company acquired in a 2014 purchase of nearly 50,000 acres. That would be the largest single destruction of wetlands in the state for an industrial frac sand project, according to Clean Wisconsin. In petitions filed with the DNR and in Dane County Court, Clean Wisconsin argues that destroying the “pristine” forested wetlands — home to several rare and endangered species — would open the door to the destruction of more rare wetlands. Staff attorney Evan Feinauer noted the DNR granted the permit despite its own admission that doing so could set a precedent for filling rare wetlands.

RUSSIA HAS DEVELOPED A CYBERWEAPON THAT CAN DISRUPT POWER GRIDS, ACCORDING TO NEW RESEARCH– Hackers allied with the Russian government have devised a cyberweapon that has the potential to be the most disruptive yet against electric systems that Americans depend on for daily life, according to U.S. researchers. The malware, which researchers have dubbed CrashOverride, is known to have disrupted only one energy system — in Ukraine in December. In that incident, the hackers briefly shut down one-fifth of the electric power generated in Kiev.  But with modifications, it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect, said Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos, a cybersecurity firm that studied the malware and issued a report Monday.  And Russian government hackers have shown their interest in targeting U.S. energy and other utility systems, researchers said. “It’s the culmination of over a decade of theory and attack scenarios,” Caltagirone warned. “It’s a game changer.”

ENVIRONMENTAL PUBLIC HEALTH TRACKING: COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH PROFILES– The 2017 County Environmental Health Profiles are summary reports of the data on the Tracking portal and provide a snapshot of a county’s environmental health. Readers can delve deeper into the data and create maps, charts, and tables on our data portal. To access and view the files, go to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website at

LAWN & LAND FORUM: FREE WEBINAR ON WATER CONSERVATION & PESTICIDE USE- Water can make or break lawns. Too much can spread turfgrass disease like wildfire. Too little limits root growth and plant health allowing the next soccer game to tear through fields. In this webinar, our two panelists explore the watering needs of the outdoor landscaping sector and how to conserve this precious resource while maintaining aesthetically pleasing, functional, and resilient grass. The webinar is being offered on July 12th, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm CST, for more information and to register go to

QUOTE– “Just remember, you can’t climb the ladder of success with your hands in your pockets.”-  Arnold Schwarzenegger

“This week’s issue of the Rural Water E-News is sponsored by the following WRWA Corporate Gold Members and Businesses:”


“For information on WRWA Corporate Gold member benefits and other advertising opportunities, contact Renee at”

David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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