Saturday , 18 November 2017

March 7, 2017 E-News

ASSEMBLY MATCHES SENATE HIGH-CAPACITY WELLS BILL – Assembly Republicans have introduced an identical companion bill to a Senate measure that would loosen high-capacity well regulations, a sign the GOP has reconciled its differences on the issue. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald last month introduced a bill exempting well repairs and ownership transfers from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ oversight and calling for groundwater studies in the central sands region. The Senate passed an identical bill last session but it died in the Assembly. That chamber passed a similar bill but included language that would have required the loser of well nuisance actions to pay attorney fees. The Assembly bill died in the Senate after Republicans in that chamber decided they couldn’t live with that provision.

WISCONSIN’S DNR TENTATIVELY OKS SAND PLANT TIED TO WETLANDS LOSS – The Department of Natural Resources has given tentative approval to construct an industrial sand plant in western Wisconsin — a project that would cause the biggest loss of wetlands by a single sand development in almost a decade. Meteor Timber, the largest private landowner in the state, is proposing to build a multimillion dollar sand drying plant and rail spur along I-94 in Monroe County and a sand mine in neighboring Jackson County. On Wednesday, the DNR notified the company of the preliminary approval and set a public hearing in Tomah on April 18, in part to “help gauge the possible environmental impacts.” The project will also require the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Jeffrey M. Olson, a section chief for the Corps in northwestern Wisconsin, said the agency was reviewing the plans. “We want to make sure that the least environmentally damaging option is selected,” he said.

WAUKESHA REBRANDS WATER DIVERSION; PREPARES FOR CHALLENGES AHEAD – Waukesha’s effort to bring in drinking water from Lake Michigan is now called the Great Water Alliance. But rebranding aside, the diversion project faces another hurdle this month. Waukesha has paid a marketing firm to name its plan to buy Lake Michigan water from Oak Creek, and by the year 2020, build two, 20-mile long underground pipes through Franklin, Muskego and New Berlin. One pipe would carry clean water to Waukesha. The other, Waukesha’s treated wastewater back as far as Franklin, where the effluent would be released into the Root River, which empties into Lake Michigan at Racine. Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said the Great Water Alliance website and social media outreach will help answer questions about the diversion. Reilly said the marketing isn’t aimed at affecting oral arguments scheduled for March 20 in Chicago, on a petition by Racine and other Great Lakes cities to appeal last year’s eight-state approval of diversion.

MAYORS, CONSERVATIONISTS BLAST POSSIBLE CUTS TO GREAT LAKES RESTORATION WORK – A group representing the region’s mayors in both the United States and Canada joined conservation groups Friday in responding sharply to news that the Trump administration is mulling drastic cuts to the ongoing Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. The proposed cuts, reported by the Detroit Free Press on Thursday, would slash annual funding for the $300 million program to $10 million. The restoration initiative is an ecological recovery program for the Great Lakes that combats invasive species, curbs nutrient-fueled algae blooms, cleans up toxic messes and restores sensitive fish and wildlife habitat. “Cuts of this magnitude would be devastating to the efforts of our two countries over the past five decades to restore the resource,” said David Ullrich, executive director of The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which represents mayors from more than 125 U.S. and Canadian cities in the Great Lakes basin.

DNR COLLECTED $15M FROM DEVELOPERS TO RESTORE WETLANDS LAST YEAR BUT WORK HASN’T BEGUN – The Department of Natural Resources has collected more than $15 million from developers for wetland restoration projects since last spring but they’re still waiting on federal approval to get started. In 2014 the DNR created a new program called the Wisconsin Wetland Conservation Trust to offer credits to developers who destroy wetlands during construction. Costing as much as $62,000 a piece, a credit roughly works out to around 1.45 acres of wetland restoration. The credits allow the project to move forward and the money is earmarked to restore or create wetlands in the same watershed. In the last year the DNR has sold more than $15 million in credits but no wetlands have been restored under the WWCT program. The DNR’s Josh Brown said four wetland restoration proposals are being reviewed by an Interagency Review Team made up of members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and the DNR. “Ideally, it would be nice if projects could be implemented this calendar year but most likely we’ll just be able to gather baseline information, do a wetland delineation and get as close as we can with a possibility of construction this fall,” Brown said.

6 MADISON SCHOOLS TEST POSITIVE FOR LEAD IN DRINKING FOUNTAINS – Drinking fountains at six Madison School District schools have lead levels higher than the national standard, district facilities manager Chad Wiese said Thursday. All six schools had at least one fountain with lead levels higher than the national standard of 15 parts per billion. Contact with lead is dangerous, especially for children who are still developing. Even small amounts of lead in the blood stream can cause irreversible brain damage and slowed growth. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there is no safe blood lead level for children.

SPRING SNOWMELT AND RAIN CAN CONTAMINATE WELLS – Warming temperatures, snow melt, residual frozen ground and rain can create conditions that may affect private wells and drinking water. “Our recent round of snow, rain and mixed precipitation throughout the state serves as a reminder that changing spring weather can lead to well contamination,” said Marty Nessman, DNR private water supply field supervisor. “At this time of year we encourage well owners to watch for signs of flooding and note any change in the color, smell or taste of their drinking water.” Owners who see flood waters very near or over their wells should assume their water could be contaminated. Take the following steps: Stop drinking the water and find another safe source. Once the waters recede, make sure the well is properly disinfected. Before drinking the water again, sample the well to assure the water is safe.

FLINT MAYOR: CITY NEEDS 2 YEARS BEFORE IT CAN TREAT ITS OWN WATER – Flint has been mired in a devastating water crisis for nearly three years, and it may be another two before it’s resolved. Mayor Karen Weaver wrote to EPA officials earlier this week to inform them that the Michigan city will not be able to treat its own water for lead and other contaminants until 2019, citing a lengthy construction and testing process for a new water treatment plant. “To expedite completion of the project and minimize cost, a design/build project delivery method is proposed,” Weaver wrote. “Based on this approach, an August, 2019, completion date is anticipated for the treatment plant improvements.”

WRWA ANNUAL TECHNICAL CONFERENCE – Less than three weeks until the WRWA 29th Annual Technical Conference is held March 28-31 in LaCrosse. With 1,500 anticipated attendees and 230 exhibit booths this should be the largest WRWA conference ever. Don’t miss the opening session and awards presentation, Sportsman’s Raffle prize drawings, banquet; poster, video and water taste contests and over 40-hours of training sessions throughout the week. This conference has something for everyone in the water & wastewater industries. For more information, go to

QUOTE – “I’d rather regret the things I’ve done than regret the things I haven’t done.” Lucille Ball

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David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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