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

Titus Wamai

The Pabst Theater was packed to the rafters last night as the voices behind WUWM’s collaborative series Precious Lives came to life. Two dozen students and adults from the Milwaukee area used song and words to express how gun violence has touched their lives.

Before Precious Lives: The Live Show, Ben Duke shared why he had come.  He has decades of experience working with high school students.  

Duke is part of Milwaukee Public School’s division of school safety.

S Bence

Water policy makers, scientists, corporate leaders and entrepreneurs are all together this week in Milwaukee. And while that’s not so unusual, given global discussions around water security and climate change, the Milwaukee-based Water Council is trying something new as it convenes its 9th annual Water Summit.

Instead of the typical breakout session format, the organizers are trying something called “One Room. One Moderator. One Water.”

Susan Bence

Milwaukee recently found itself on a list of 33 cities accused of concealing dangerous levels of lead in its drinking water. The Guardian claims the city’s testing methods are faulty because testers run faucets – or pre-flush a water system – before collecting the samples.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) is pooling the collective expertise of nearly 90 scientists and students to see how many species of plants and animals they can identify in 24 hours.

That’s a BioBlitz.

The idea sprouted back in 1996 when scientists inventoried a park in Washington D.C.

MPM’s Senior Vice President and Academic Dean, Ellen Censky, helped organize the first public-based BioBlitz that same year in Pittsburgh. She coordinated eight BioBlitz’s in three states since that time.

Susan Bence

Monday to mark Memorial Day, veterans and people who support them will gather at 4th and Wisconsin, and parade to the War Memorial Center. The Milwaukee tradition dates back to 1865. After the procession, a wreath laying ceremony will take place at the reflecting pool.

Vietnam veteran Peter Pochowski is helping oversee the restoration of the structure. He serves as chairman of the board of trustees of the War Memorial Center.

Susan Bence

This week's Bubbler Talk question comes from Spencer Hoyt, who asked WUWM: Why is the 425 million year old Schoonmaker Reef so important to metro Milwaukee?

The coral reef existed when North America was covered with water hundreds of millions of years ago, and then it fossilized.

Wisconsin DNR

Wednesday, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Water Resources Regional Body completed the last step necessary to push the City of Waukesha’s request to draw Lake Michigan water for a final vote.

Waukesha maintains the Great Lakes provide the only sustainable solution to its radium-tainted well water.

The group’s job was to review the application, judge if it adheres to the tenets of the Great Lakes Compact and pass recommendations to the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Council, or Compact Council.

Susan Bence

Thursday signaled two water-related gatherings in Milwaukee. One was strictly business, the other oozed community.

Marquette University hosted the gathering of The Water Council and Midwest Energy Research Consortium or M-WERC.

In September 2015 the two groups began a conversation about the “energy-water nexus”. It’s a conversation with a goal – a “roadmap” of research and business opportunities created by the relationship of water and energy.

Susan Bence

Waukesha will have to wait at least another week to learn whether its request for Lake Michigan water may move forward. Great Lakes delegates met Tuesday and Wednesday in Chicago. They were supposed to decide whether to recommend approval of Waukesha’s request; instead the group moved to delay.

Waukesha’s application to draw from the Basin is the first since the Great Lakes Compact came to life in 2008.

Susan Bence

Artists are busy creating along the Milwaukee Museum Mile, as part of Art in the City: Plein Air MKE. The flurry of small brush painting is part of a celebration of the Milwaukee Museum Mile’s fifth anniversary. One of its members is North Point Lighthouse.

John Scripp was one of the volunteers instrumental in breathing new life into the 1888 station.

Susan Bence

Inland fishing season opens Saturday.

Thirty years ago, Eagle Lake would not have been a popular angler destination.  The rural Racine County lake was dominated by common carp. The fish is not native to North American waters, but has been around a long time.

S Bence

As Great Lakes delegates take another look today at Waukesha’s application to divert Lake Michigan water, they may consider an unsettled issue.

Two weeks ago, the so-called Regional Body held a marathon session in Chicago and seemed to agree that Waukesha should trim down its proposed service area closer to the city’s boundaries. During the discussions, one question arose intermittently.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Cleaning up the Milwaukee River Basin, made up of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee Rivers, has become a decades-long endeavor.

Over time crews have removed dams, hauled out contaminated sediment and naturalized some stretches of once concrete-lined waterways.

Volunteers have also played a part. Saturday marked the 21st annual cleanup coordinated by the group Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

Teams slipped on gloves and boots to remove debris by the bagful at sites from Campbellsport south to Cudahy.

It was site captain Mitch Kulis' third cleanup.

Grace Heffernan

According the the EPA, American's generate roughly 254 million tons of trash a year, approximately 35 percent of which is recycled or composted. Meanwhile, Sweden boasts that more than 99 percent of all household waste there is recycled.

Swedish native Veronica  Lundback arrived in Milwaukee in 2001 to attend graduate school at UWM. Back at home, conservation was a way of life.

S Bence

Two days of crucial discussions that could affect Waukesha and its drinking water ended Friday afternoon in Chicago. Representatives of the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces scaled-back part of the city's plan to divert water from Lake Michigan. The changes are recommendations but could influence the final outcome in June.