Sunday , 19 November 2017

September 13, 2017 E-News

GAME-CHANGING MINE BILL PITS ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS, BUSINESS INTERESTS AGAINST EACH OTHER– During its four years of operation, the Flambeau Mine produced copper, gold and silver from a deposit that was relatively small, but rich. It closed in 1997, the last mine of its kind to operate in Wisconsin. That could soon change. In a major policy shift for the state, a bill by Republican lawmakers would strike down restrictions on such mining, ushering in a new era of mineral exploration. The legislation is sparking a sharp political fight between environmental groups and business interests.  Environmentalists are highlighting the perils of mining rock from sulfide deposits, which have a history of leaching acidic material and polluting water. Supporters of the legislation are touting the economic advantages of mining. http://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2017/09/09/mining-bill-digs-up-longstanding-ladysmith-mine-now-closed-lies-center-debate-over-mining-legislatio/633501001/

WISCONSIN RESIDENTS PUSH BACK AGAINST MINE LOOMING JUST OVER STATE LINE– As Wisconsin lawmakers consider a bill aimed at attracting mining jobs, state residents are standing up against an open pit mine proposed for a site in Michigan 150 feet from the river that forms the state line. The elected boards and councils of six counties, four municipalities and the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin oppose the Aquila Resources Back Forty project in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Opponents say it could drain acid into the Menominee River, a fishing destination that empties into Lake Michigan’s Green Bay. The huge mine would unearth tons of sulfide rock, which reacts with air and water to create the acid, said Menominee chairman Gary Besaw. http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/wisconsin-residents-push-back-against-mine-looming-just-over-state/article_746063b1-5141-5a31-aac2-59cafadabb2c.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=email&utm_campaign=user-share

TRANSPORTATION BUDGET BLOCKS SOME LOCAL REGULATIONS ON SAND MINES, QUARRIES– Local governments would not be allowed to regulate air and water quality or restrict blasting at some sand mines, quarries and gravel pits under a provision in the state transportation budget. The state Legislature’s budget-writing committee inserted language into the spending plan Tuesday that would restrict how local governments regulate sand mines, quarries and gravel pits that supply material for public works projects after April 2018. In essence, the policy would bar counties, cities, towns and villages from restricting things like truck traffic, blasting and setbacks. It would also block local governments from setting their own air and water quality standards beyond those enforced by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. https://www.wpr.org/transportation-budget-blocks-some-local-regulations-sand-mines-quarries

NEW LAFAYETTE COUNTY GROUP FOCUSES ON WATER QUALITY– When a few Lafayette County farmers sat down at a table to talk about forming an organization to promote conservation practices that can make a difference, they had a few simple goals in mind. Jim Winn, chairman of the newly formed Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance, said the farmers wanted to let others know they are concerned about their community and that farmers want to do the right thing. “We want to show our community we’re doing our part and we think this is a great way to start,” Winn said Aug. 29 during a news conference to introduce the organization just prior to the group’s first field day. “We don’t want to deal with issues that happen, we want to prevent them,” said Steve Carpenter, vice chairman of the group and a dairy farmer from Darlington. Lafayette County farmers face issues with karst topography, much like farmers in Kewaunee County, where water quality problems have been in the news. The farmers who came together to form the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance said they want to get ahead of potential problems, understand more about how karst topography affects water quality and do their part to protect the county’s natural resources. http://www.thecountrytoday.com/Environment/2017/09/04/New-Lafayette-County-group-focuses-on-water-quality.html

FARMERS, ENVIRONMENTALISTS JOIN FORCES TO BATTLE BLUE-GREEN ALGAE– Blue-green algae is a kind of bacteria that grows on surface water because of hot weather and phosphorous pollution. It can cause serious sickness if ingested. But while the algae isn’t as bad this year, it’s still a chronic problem for Lake Petenwell and the Castle Rock flowage to the south. Rick Georgeson is the president of an environmental homeowners group called the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards, or PACRS. The group has reached out to local farmers to try to stop the phosphorous fertilizer runoff that is feeding the algae. In February 2016, Georgeson organized a seminar on the subject at Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids. That’s where he met John Eron, the president of the Portage County Farm Bureau. “He shakes my hand, and says, ‘Tell you what, if you bring the lake people up to my farm, I’ll bring the farmers to the lake,” Georgeson remembered. The biggest common goal is stopping phosphorus fertilizer runoff, which flows from Portage County farm fields into nearby Mill Creek, and from there into the Wisconsin River and Lake Petenwell. https://www.wpr.org/farmers-environmentalists-join-forces-battle-blue-green-algae

TRANSPORTATION UTILITY COULD PAY FOR ROAD WORK– The fact that no other municipality in Wisconsin has a transportation utility hasn’t deterred the city of Clintonville from moving forward with its research into possibly implementing one. At the Aug. 30 Finance Committee meeting, Clintonville City Administrator Sharon Eveland shared with the committee more information about transportation utilities as well as a draft of a sample ordinance implementing one. A transportation utility charges residential and commercial members of the community a fee to help pay for transportation needs. Eveland told the committee that she believes a transportation utility would go a long way in generating new revenue to improve the city’s streets. “Everyone here is clearly aware (the city’s) needs far outpace our ability to generate revenue,” Eveland said. Eveland told the committee that she believes a transportation utility could generate $350,000 to $400,000 per year. http://www.waupacanow.com/2017/09/07/city-seeks-new-revenue/

EPA- TOOLS TO PREPARE FOR CONTAMINATION EMERGENCIES– Prepare for contamination emergencies to maintain water services in your community by utilizing EPA’s new preparedness & response tools. The Surveillance and Response System (SRS) provides a framework for enhancing distribution system monitoring capabilities to detect water quality issues and respond before they become problems https://www.epa.gov/waterqualitysurveillance/water-quality-surveillance-and-response-system-fact-sheet . The Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA) Tool Kit online tool is designed to provide you with an introduction to a selection of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resources that may be beneficial to your laboratory or organization- https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-08/documents/wla_toolkit.pdf

QUOTE– “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.”- Vince Lombardi

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