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

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.

Susan Bence

John Dickert has been Racine's mayor since 2009. This summer, he’ll abandon that post to take a job with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities initiative.

The organization represents mayors from more than 120 American and Canadian cities.

Last January inside Racine City Hall, Dickert addressed a swarm of journalists. They were there to learn about the contentious plan allowing the City of Waukesha to divert drinking water from Lake Michigan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

River Revitalization Foundation is a nonprofit headquartered in what originally was a brick ranch along the Milwaukee River, upstream from downtown Milwaukee. Surrounded by restored shoreline, the south-facing portion of the building’s roof will soon be topped with ten solar panels.

That’s if Mike Ballo achieves his goal to raise $10,567 to install the panels. The panels themselves were donated to the foundation.

Cheryl Nenn

Over the last seven years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has pumped $2.2 billion into restoring the Great Lakes - thousands of projects both large and small. President Trump would like to eliminate the fund by 2018.

READ: Trump's Budget Eliminates Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative came to life during the Obama Administration, but it's seed was planted during George W. Bush's tenure.  And, now President Trump's budget calls for defunding the program.

Ashley Irvin

The vote of the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform split 3-2 along party lines.  The committee chair opted for a paper ballot vote, rather than convening face-to-face.

Earlier this month a large crowd gathered for a public hearing, which stretched  from morning into the evening. Tuesday's vote advances the bill to the full Senate, which is likely to take it up next week.

Original Post - March 16, 2017:

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

One of the startups selected for this year's The Water Council's BREW Accelerator program was on display last week outside the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District headquarters.

Menomonee River water was being sucked up into the CORNCOB demonstration model – picture a water heater tipped on its side. A gleaming metal barrel connected to pipes and valves is being monitored by a sophisticated computer system.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Wednesday evening update:

The National Trust's presentation did not bring the Milwaukee County Task Force on the Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes any closer to its mission.  It is  "to recommend a course of action to the County Executive and County Board" on a sustainable future of the Domes.

Milwaukee County Parks Director John Dargle described the National Trust's report as "weak and vague."

Fellow task force member John Gurda suggested Milwaukee County engineers analyze the report and provide feedback at the next meeting. Its date has not yet been set.

As a snow advisory hovers over the region, the Milwaukee River has taken on a strange and ever-changing look.

It looks like a gooey concoction, but according to Milwaukee Riverkeeper, the topping is rapidly forming ice called "pancake."

"Because the river has been wide open due to warm temps, and temps have dropped, it's starting to ice up again," says Riverkeeper Cheryl Nenn, explaining what people might be noticing floating down the river toward Lake Michigan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Jacqui Patterson works in communities around the country to engage African-Americans on climate issues. She directs the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program and helped build the program from the ground up.

Pat Rabinson

Milwaukee Water Commons was created four years ago to educate the community about water - its rivers, streams and Lake Michigan - to cultivate informed stewards.

“I came from a more traditional environmental effort, which was the Milwaukee River Greenway Coalition – working to make the river more beautiful, more accessible. There was already a ton of passion around that issue, but it was by and large a middle class and white group of people,” founder Ann Brummitt says.

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