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

UPDATE - The results are in.  The winner of the Future City Competition National Finals is the City of Ville Suave created by the Academy for Science & Foreign Language in Huntsville, Alabama.

Now in its 24th year, the Future City Competition allows teams of 6th, 7th and 8th graders to design their city of the future. This year’s theme was “Waste Not, Want Not”.

Signs of sustainability are peppered across the City of Milwaukee landscape – from the exponential growth of the Bublr bike share business, to the wind turbine dominating the south shore skyline and an increase in solar panels blanketing rooftops in neighborhoods around town.

The City's director of environmental sustainability, Erick Shambarger, believes 2016 marks an important milestone.

Michelle Maternowski

The Mitchell Park Domes are one of Milwaukee County’s most popular destinations.

County Executive Chris Abele shuttered the aging glass structures over the weekend after a piece of concrete the size of a tennis ball plummeted 20 feet into the desert dome.

Abele announced Monday all three domes will remain shut down until a fix is found. The ultimate answer could carry a price tag of tens of millions.

Construction crews began erecting the structures in 1959. The job took eight years.

S Bence

While the country remains riveted to Flint, Michigan because of its contaminated drinking water, other cities, including Milwaukee, have huge lead problems of their own.

An estimated 10 percent of kids under age six in Milwaukee have unhealthy levels of lead in their blood. The culprit: lead-based paint.

It’s long been banned, but thousands of older houses, especially in low-income areas, still contain it.

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A water-related bill floating through the Legislature is causing waves. The measure would give lakefront property owners and developers more latitude to manage wetlands on their land and dredge their waterfront. Critics insist ecosystems and wetlands stand to suffer.  

Mary Knipper sits in her cozy no-frills cottage on Lake Delavan in western Walworth County. The registered nurse had a full career before she and her husband moved here year-round.

S Bence

UPDATE: The full state Senate is slated to take up the bill on February 16, 2016.

Original Piece:

On Thursday, GOP members of a state Senate committee advanced an amended bill to the full Senate that could ease the process of private companies buying municipal water utilities. The Republican-controlled Assembly has already said yes.

Green Bay Press Gazette 2005

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism issued a report on dangerous levels of arsenic in Wisconsin's water. Bradley Burmeister grew up in one of the most affected areas - Outagamie County.

His family lives two miles outside Seymour, Wisconsin – population 3,000, give or take.

Neumann Companies

Pewaukee-based builder and developer Matt Neumann added solar installation to his business in 2009. He calls the timing perfect.

“Because in 2008 the federal investment tax credit was extended until the cap was lifted so you could receive a 30 percent tax credit for any system you install, whether is was $1,000 or $ 1 million,” he says.

S Bence

The International Joint Commission, or IJC, released that advice on Tuesday.

The U.S. and Canadian governments created the commission in 1909 to resolve disputes around “shared” waters.

The last time the International Joint Commission released a major report protecting the Great Lakes from diversions was in 2000.

S Bence

Oak Creek’s new civic center abounds with sustainable features – natural light pouring into the buildings, LED lights and geothermal heating and cooling. But what has most excited city’s environmental engineer, Susan Winnen, about the new Drexel Town Square development is the wetland.

Located next to the former industrial site, this parcel of land survived decades of intense activity. The 18 acres have now been christened Emerald Preserve.

S Bence

Waukesha has been working toward this moment for over a decade. On Thursday morning, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources forwarded Waukesha's application to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan to the remaining Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces.

S Bence

Teams of middle school students around the country have taken on the challenge of “waste not, want not.” It’s the theme of this year’s Future City Competition.

The annual challenge is designed to inspire students to latch onto engineering and math. 115 teams representing 20 Wisconsin schools hope to have a chance to compete at the national finals in February.

Longfellow Middle School in Wauwatosa gets into Future City in a big way. It boasts 21 teams.

S Bence

Each year, Americans toss out nearly 34 million tons of food – and the vast majority of it ends up in landfills. On Monday, WUWM looked at local efforts to transform food waste to compost. Today, we talk with people converting food into energy.

The sun is about to rise as the first customers straggle into Sendik’s grocery store in Mequon. Inside, Jeff Schutte just finished prepping the produce.

S Bence

We, Americans, waste a lot of food. Approximately 40 percent is never eaten. That amounts to 34 million tons of waste annually; most ends up in landfills. WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence digs into the problem - starting with her own refrigerator.

"You don’t have to go very far from home to experience food waste. Like inside my refrigerator…has some pretty nasty looking red cabbage, broccoli I thought I would make soup out of. And I don’t know what this mush is, could have been cilantro," she says.

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