Susan Bence

Environmental Reporter

Susan Bence entered broadcasting in an untraditional way. After years of avid public radio listening, Susan returned to school and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She interned for WUWM News and worked with the Lake Effect team, before being hired full-time as a WUWM News reporter / producer.

Susan is now WUWM's environmental reporter, the station's first. Her work has been recognized by the Milwaukee Press Club, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.

Susan worked with Prevent Blindness Wisconsin for 20 years, studied foreign languages at UWM, and loves to travel.

Ways to Connect

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Freshman Tya Miller was among the North Division students who gathered outside at the end of the school day Wednesday, holding signs and distributing bottled water.

“My concern is that we don’t have clean water at all. All of our water bubblers are full of lead and they expect us to drink it,” Miller says.

Miller says bottled water is being provided, “But we have pay a dollar for it and I feel like that isn’t fair,” she adds, “We’re students here and we deserve free water.”

Silverleaf Geospatial © OpenStreetMap contributors, © CARTO

The Natural Resources Defense Council released a report Tuesday on states with the most drinking water violations. And, Wisconsin was on the list.

States were ranked most at risk from over 100 contaminants, including toxic chemicals, bacteria and metals such as lead. The data was drawn from EPA records collected throughout 2015.

sima, fotolia

Update: Democratic and Republican state Representatives sounded like they were from different planets, or at least talking about a different bill, during long deliberations Tuesday.

Republican Rep Gary Tauchen of Bonduel said the bill simply does two things, "It works with existing wells - that they be maintianed, that they be repairedand that they be transferred.  And the other thing it does is it has a study area in the Central Sands area."

Harbor District, Inc

Planners believe the Milwaukee Harbor District's 1,000 watery acres are oozing with potential. Its revitalization tops the city’s sustainability plan.

An organization called Harbor District, Inc was created to encourage the input of “big idea” types who articulate blending everything from environmental cleanup with economic development.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Update: The Water Quality Task Force reviewed it list of recommendations for the last time Friday morning. Task force member Ben Gramling of Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers suggested an addition, “That calls for the City to do all within its power to accelerate the replacement and/or rehabilitation of lead service lines within its jurisdiction.”  The task force agreed and shifted the resolution to the top of its list.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Dozens of Milwaukee pedestrians have been killed by vehicles, and thousands seriously hurt during the past six years. The problem is part of a national trend, according to the new Governor’s Highway Safety Association report.

Elizabeth Ferris

More than 1,300 people are expected to gather at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Saturday afternoon to march for science. Organizers here drew inspiration from a march – also taking place on Earth Day – in Washington DC. Both marches, along with more than 600 others scheduled around the world, hope to draw attention to the role science plays in health, economies and governments.

Susan Bence

Upate:

The Compact Council deliberated for less than a half hour Thursday before it unanimous voted not to repoen or modify the decision allowing Waukesha to draw Lake Michigan water.

Wisconsin DNR secretary Cathy Stepp said the Compact Council's final review further reinforces that the Great Lakes Compact works.

Chris Young

As Alverno College students count down to graduation day, several seniors shared their choices and concerns for the environment.

Hannah Burby says her family set an environmental example - outdoor people, who reuse cream cheese containers, not Tupperware. Recycling is not an option, it’s mandatory. Burby’s “people” are engineers.

“I wanted to apply that and be an environmental engineer, and now I’ve changed my mind to do something more community-based,” Burby says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

More than a decade ago, residents living near the last operating landfill within Milwaukee's limits were presented with a challenge -- as well as an opportunity. As the landfill closed, neighbors organized. And today, a 20-acre park - featuring a labyrinth, bronze sculptures, a playground and more - stands in its spot.

Near the spot where West Keefe Avenue meets the Menomonee River Parkway, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Public Works Ghassan Korban touts the park as a stormwater management marvel.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

UW-Milwaukee student Jessica Hufford spearheaded the first week-long No Impact Challenge on campus last year. She's working to get more students involved this year.

"The way the challenge works is that there is a theme for each day, consumption on Sunday, trash Monday, etc. and the challenge builds on itself throughout the week to ease into sustainable living," Hufford says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A decades-old tradition unfolded at West Allis Central High on Monday evening - and at schools and courthouses in every county in the state. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress conducted its annual spring hearings.

Susan Bence

More than 300 hundred people came out Thursday evening to view the latest iteration of a plan for 1200-acres in the southwest portion of Wauwatosa, but their focus was on a small parcel within the plan. Sanctuary Woods is located within what’s commonly known as the County Grounds.

Some see its 22 acres as an oasis within a hub of activity surrounding Watertown Plank Road: traffic and business; the medical complex and UWM’s Innovation Campus: a new apartment complex. Some of that development has swallowed up, what for decades, was green space.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

Update:

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Company site to Wisconsin Gas LLC, a We Energies affiliate. It was the only bidder, offering $4 million for the 47-acre parcel.

We Energies is among several businesses that are responsible for the site's environmental cleanup. The utility used to operate a gas works there years ago.

Before previous owner Golden Marina filed for bankruptcy, it had hoped to create housing and a marina there.

steuccio79 / fotolia

Update, Wednesday, April 5 at 9:30 a.m.:

The Senate voted Wednesday morning along party lines, 19-13, to move the bill forward. It exempts existing high-capacity wells from review of the Department of Natural Resources if the well needs to be repaired, replaced or sold.

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