Sunday , 19 November 2017

September 6, 2017 E-News

BATTLE OVER MINE POLLUTION RAMPS UP– Republicans say the repeal of Wisconsin’s so-called mining moratorium would leave in place a body of other Wisconsin laws to protect the environment. But the repeal legislation contains 10 additional provisions that would relax those other protections, say conservationists who are fighting the proposal. The proposal introduced last month would relax wetland and ground water protections, constrain the time regulators have to review mine plans, limit challenges to state mining permits, and exempt mine companies from fees that cover costs of ensuring safe handling of hazardous waste.

GOVERNOR SAYS NEXT DNR SECRETARY WILL SEEK BALANCE BETWEEN ECONOMIC GROWTH, ENVIRONMENT CONCERNS– Gov. Scott Walker said on Friday that “a lot of people are interested” in being the next secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Walker said that he’s looking for a candidate who can balance environmental protection and economic development.  The governor’s comments came a few days after Cathy Stepp resigned as DNR secretary to take a post with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Her former deputy, Kurt Thiede, is now interim secretary. Walker said that after the state budget process is over, Thiede will be considered for the permanent job, as will a lot of other people from both inside and outside government. “But, what I ultimately want in that position is someone who understands the balance between protecting the environment, the natural resources of our state, and continues to protect and support economic prosperity in the state. To me, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive,” Walker told reporters in Cudahy.

GROUNDWATER COORDINATING COUNCIL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR ADDITIONAL PRIVATE WELL TESTING– Since Wisconsin’s groundwater resources play a critical role in human health and the economy, it’s important that more private well owners test their wells on a regular basis. That’s one of the findings in the 2017 annual Groundwater Coordinating Council report.  Nearly three-quarters of Wisconsin residents rely on groundwater as the primary source for their drinking water. “Unlike public water systems, protection and maintenance of private wells is largely the responsibility of homeowners,” said Pat Stevens, Environmental Management Division administrator for the Department of Natural Resources and council chairman. “We recommend that private well owners test their water at least once a year for coliform and E. coli bacteria, important indicators of health risk.” In some counties, such as Dane, Portage and Kewaunee, more than 10 percent of private wells, on average, are tested for coliform bacteria each year. However, the state average of private wells tested annually for total coliform bacteria is only about 6 percent.

FIRST-EVER WATER TAX PROPOSED TO TACKLE UNSAFE DRINKING WATER IN CALIFORNIA– For the first time Californians would pay a tax on drinking water — 95 cents per month — under legislation aimed at fixing hundreds of public water systems with unsafe tap water. Senate Bill 623, backed by a strange-bedfellows coalition of the agricultural lobby and environmental groups but opposed by water districts, would generate $2 billion over the next 15 years to clean up contaminated groundwater and improve faulty water systems and wells. The problem is most pervasive in rural areas with agricultural runoff. “My message is short and direct: We are not Flint, Michigan,” co-author Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said at a Wednesday rally outside the Capitol, where demonstrators held signs reading “Clean water is not a luxury” and “Water is a human right.”

THE RULES FOR GREAT LAKES WATER AND FOXCONN’S THIRSTY OPERATIONS– Wisconsin legislators have proposed carving out broad environmental exemptions for a proposed Foxconn factory. An incentives bill currently working its way through the legislature would streamline how the state applies the Great Lakes Compact if the facility decides to use water from Lake Michigan. Given the thirsty nature of LCD fabrication, southeastern Wisconsin is an attractive area for Foxconn to build a factory with access to water in mind. In an Aug. 11, 2017 interview on Wisconsin Public Television’s Here & Now, WisContext associate editor Scott Gordon discussed the role of water in electronics manufacturing and the legal systems that govern how people use Great Lakes water.


GREAT LAKES WATER TEMPERATURES START TO DECREASE EARLY–  Great Lakes water temperatures may have started their yearly decline ahead of schedule. George Leshkevich, a research scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, said each of the lakes is cooler than it was in late August last year. “It seems like they’re cooling. The cooling usually starts in September,” he told the Traverse City Record-Eagle. “But, in just seeing the forecast for northern Michigan in the last week or so, night temperatures and frost risks will affect the water temperatures.” Lake Michigan seems to have been the least impacted, being only about 1 degree lower than last year, from 72 degrees to only about 71. Lake Superior was about 66 degrees last year in late August and about 63 degrees this year.

CORPS OF ENGINEERS TAKES PROACTIVE APPROACH TO STOP ASIAN CARP IN MISSISSIPPI RIVER– The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is updating procedures at a lock and dam on the upper Mississippi River to stop the spread of Asian carp.  Previous methods for operating spillway gates at Lock and Dam 8 in Genoa created variations in the flow of water through the dam, allowing the invasive species to swim through places with a slower current. Nan Bischoff, project manager for USACE’s St. Paul district, said researchers from the University of Minnesota helped USACE identify these imbalances and adjust the way they use the gates. “By rebalancing how we are passing flows, we do eliminate those areas where the Asian carp can get through,” Bischoff said. So far, Asian carp have taken over the Mississippi River through parts of Iowa, about 100 miles south of Lock and Dam 8. “We’re one of the few places in the Mississippi River basin that isn’t burdened with these animals,” said Peter Sorensen, professor at the University of Minnesota who lead the research team. “We should recognize that and let’s do something while we have the chance.”

QUOTE– “How come you never see a headline like “Psychic Wins Lottery”? – Jay Leno

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