Saturday , 25 February 2017

May 18, 2016 E-News

MADISON RECOGNIZED AS MODEL FOR PREVENTING LEAD CONTAMINATION IN WATER – The city of Madison’s approach to handling possible lead contamination from pipes was likened to “hitting a gnat with a sledgehammer” in a recent Washington Post article. Long before Flint, Michigan made headlines for its lead water contamination and how the city handled the crisis, Madison removed all of its lead pipes, a costly but effective method that only one other municipality has done, according to the Washington Post. From 2001 to 2011, the city dug up and replaced its pipes because the water had been measured at 19 parts per billion, which is one part per billion over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. “The safe level of lead is zero,” Joe Grande, Madison Water Utility’s manager said in the article.

WAUKESHA’S PRICE OF LAKE MICHIGAN WATER? NO EXPANSION OF BORDERS – The City of Waukesha must accept strict limits to growth — with no outward expansion beyond its existing borders — in exchange for Lake Michigan water. That is the consensus of representatives of eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces reviewing the city’s unprecedented application for a diversion of water outside the Lake Michigan watershed. But that was not Waukesha’s plan in 2010 when the city requested up to an average of 10.9 million gallons a day of lake water by midcentury to serve a distribution area that included portions of four neighboring communities, including 84% of the Town of Waukesha. The city reduced the volume to 10.1 million gallons a day in 2013. Regional officials said last week that no more than a daily average of 8.2 million gallons of lake water should be enough to serve their preferred smaller distribution area in 2050, if the city makes good on its water conservation goals.

20-YEAR YAHARA PACT IS STATE’S BIGGEST PUSH TO KEEP FARM POLLUTION OUT OF LAKES – In a water cleanup effort more complex than any other in the nation, virtually every community in the 360-square-mile watershed around Madison has agreed to pool resources with farmers to eliminate nutrient-driven weed and algae growths that limit use of lakes and streams. The agreement signed by about 60 local governments will pool more than $2 million annually for 20 years starting Jan. 1 to pay for measures that keep soil and other material laden with the nutrient phosphorus from being carried into surface water by snow melt and rain. Unlike previous attempts to eliminate foul-smelling algae blooms and thick tangles of aquatic weeds around Madison, this one does more than pay farmers to make improvements such as planting along ditches and streams to stabilize soil. It targets land areas known to pollute most and establishes a legally enforceable timetable to reduce phosphorus in water throughout the Yahara River basin to meet the state’s exacting standard.

AG SAYS DNR WENT TOO FAR IN PROTECTING WATER – State regulators can’t consider the cumulative effect that hundreds of high-capacity wells exert on lakes, streams and groundwater when deciding whether to approve new wells, under a formal opinion issued Tuesday by Attorney General Brad Schimel. Issued at the request of Republican lawmakers who complained about delays in state permits for wells that pump 100,000 gallons per day — typically large farms and food processors — Schimel’s opinion says a series of court rulings over the years had gradually expanded state authority to protect public waters. But, Schimel said, a 2011 state law rolled back that power by prohibiting state agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources from setting or enforcing any environmental standard that isn’t explicitly spelled out in statutes.

OLD BUT RELIABLE: NEARLY A THIRD OF LA CROSSE WATER MAINS PAST CENTURY MARKTurn a tap in downtown La Crosse and the water will flow through the same pipes that provided fire protection back when horse-drawn buggies traveled the dirt roads, steamboats docked along the riverfront and Doc Powell was in city hall. Nearly a third of La Crosse’s water mains are at least 100 years old, predating even the city’s modern water works. One out of six feet of pipe has been in the ground since the 1800s. With the city replacing less than 0.01 percent of that pipe each year, large swaths of the system are approaching what the American Water Works Association considers the end of its “useful service life” — the point where it becomes cheaper to replace a pipe than to continue repairing it. “It’s something that’s first and foremost on just about every city’s mind — especially with the Flint crisis,” said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat, who will be discussing water infrastructure next week at a meeting with leaders of Wisconsin’s largest cities. While the water crisis in Flint, Mich., has sharpened the public focus on the nation’s drinking water infrastructure, municipalities and utilities have been sounding the alarm for years of an impending crisis as the time comes to replace such aging pipes.

BY MONITORING STREAMS, MADISON WEST STUDENT FURTHERS PASSION FOR WATER, COMMUNITY – Camryn Kluetmeier, clad in stomach-high waders, stood in a shallow creek bed eyeing a tall, upright tube filled with water. The tube is a device to measure water clarity. On Monday afternoon, it showed the water in Fitchburg’s Swan Creek was relatively clear. Kluetmeier, 17, a junior at Madison West High School, is working to keep it that way. Her volunteer work monitoring the health of local streams, starting at age 11, won her recognition from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It’s also leading to what Kluetmeier hopes will become a career in environmental science, based on her passion for protecting some of Wisconsin’s most treasured common spaces — its lakes and rivers. “I know I want to do something that gives back and helps out with the environment,” Kluetmeier said.

QUOTE – “There’s no future in spending our present worrying about our past.” –  Tom Wilson

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