Saturday , 22 October 2016

October 12, 2016 E-News

WALKER REQUESTS FEDERAL DISASTER AID FOR WESTERN WISCONSIN DUE TO SEPTEMBER FLOODING – Gov. Scott Walker today sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting a federal disaster declaration for 12 western Wisconsin counties after torrential rains and flash floods last month caused more than $11 million in damage to roads and public infrastructure. The request is for federal assistance to help local governments recover from the disaster. Walker requested federal disaster assistance for Adams, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Monroe, Richland, Trempealeau and Vernon counties. Last week, FEMA, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Emergency Management conducted damage assessments across the impacted areas with local officials.

EPA REVIEW OF STATE’S POLLUTION COULD BRING CHANGES – Federal regulators plan to spend four days this week in the Madison headquarters of the state Department of Natural Resources paging through files on state enforcement of water pollution laws. Technically, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency probe is aimed at determining whether the federal government should take the extreme step of revoking the state’s authority for enforcing those laws in Wisconsin. But typically states make changes to avoid the embarrassment of being stripped of their environmental authority, said Emily Hammond, a George Washington University law professor who co-authored a study of federal investigations like the one now targeting Wisconsin.

FEMA BEGINS DISASTER ASSESSMENT IN WESTERN WISCONSIN, REPS ASK PRESIDENT FOR SWIFT ACTION – As damage totals grow, Wisconsin’s federal representatives are asking the president to give the state any help it needs in responding to floods that killed two people and caused more than $21 million in damages last month. The Federal Emergency Management Agency dispatched teams Wednesday to the 12 affected counties of western Wisconsin to assess damage to roads, bridges and other public infrastructure. Their reports will help Gov. Scott Walker decide whether to seek a federal disaster declaration, the first step in requesting federal assistance. Under the Public Assistance program, the federal government pays 75 percent of the cost to clean up and repair infrastructure, with the balance split between state and local government. Some nonprofit organizations also are eligible for aid. Preliminary damage assessments — $14 million public and $7.2 million private — do not meet federal disaster thresholds.

STATE INSPECTORS CHECKING VEGETABLES IN FLOODED FIELDS FOR CONTAMINATION – As farmers in Wisconsin’s rain-soaked counties continue to recover from the onslaught of heavy rainfall in August and September, food safety inspectors are checking vegetables from farms in flooded areas for contamination, the state’s ag chief said. Inspectors have taken a proactive approach in western and central counties to check vegetable crops in flooded areas that could have been contaminated in the fields or after the harvest when produce was washed with well water, according to state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Ben Brancel.

WAUKESHA CHOOSES MANAGER FOR LAKE MICHIGAN WATER SUPPLY PROJECT – The Waukesha Water Utility Commission has selected Greeley and Hansen as the program manager for its switch to a Lake Michigan water supply. The environmental engineering firm specializes in water and wastewater engineering. The Commission voted to have Greeley and Hansen proceed with work on the water project. It also directed utility staff to negotiate a final contract with the firm. Greeley and Hansen will manage the permitting, design and construction of the project, as well as route studies, land and easement acquisitions, public outreach and more. They will also oversee subconsultants. The firm will establish a local office for the project. “This is another major milestone on our path to a safe and reliable water supply for our families and employers,” Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said. Reilly, who is also a member of the utility commission, said the commissioners wanted a management team that is experienced in construction of large projects. The mayor said the project will cost approximately $206 million and take about five years to design, permit and build.

FLINT HIT WITH BACTERIAL ILLNESS AS RESIDENTS SHUN CITY WATER – Residents of Flint, Mich., affected by the contaminated-water crisis have added a new complication to their lives: an outbreak of shigellosis, a bacterial illness that is easily transmitted when people do not wash their hands. Health department officials in Genesee County, where Flint is the largest city, said there has been an increase in the gastrointestinal illness, which can lead to severe diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, cramps and stools containing blood and mucus, according to a statement issued last month. Residents have been relying on bottled water to drink at home but still recoil from using tap water for other purposes, such as washing and cooking. They have adapted their personal hygiene habits, including where and how they take showers. Residents are also using baby wipes, which they get free at bottled-water-distribution centers, to clean their hands. But that may be contributing to the current transmission of the shigella bacteria, because they are not chlorinated and do not kill the bacteria.

QUOTE – “Tomorrow hopes we have learned something from yesterday.” – John Wayne

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