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.

Courtesy of Mandela Barnes

Update, June 16: 

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department has released dash-cam video from a deputy squad car, showing a longer version of what led up to Sunday's fatal shooting near Bradford Beach. A deputy fired shots into a vehicle that appeared to have been ignoring officers' warnings and attempting to flee along the crowded lakefront. The Waukesha sheriff's office continues investigating the incident.

Sam Kirchoff

A number of local citizens are concerned that scientific research is factoring less and less into policymaking. So, they formed Milwaukee Area Science Advocates, or MASA, to "champion science as a pillar of freedom and prosperity."

The idea to advocate for evidence-based policy decisions started brewing last winter, when a handful of people organized a March for Science in Milwaukee. It went well. On Earth Day, more than 3,000 people flocked to downtown.

Susan Bence

'Mushroom' Mike Jozwik has been forging in Wisconsin, and beyond, for years. When it comes to foraging, he says there's always something new to learn.

For those looking to get started, Jozwik shares a few tips:

The number one thing on Jozwik's list is to read up on the subject. "As much as people like relying on Facebook forums now, get a good book," he says.

Here are some of his favorites:

Susan Bence

Growing up in Racine, Mike Jozwik learned to forage with his parents, and loved it. So leading a gaggle of newbies on an expedition 100 miles west of Milwaukee is as natural to Jozwik as breathing.

On land owned by an amiable dairy farmer Jozwik befriended on Craigslist, Jozwik and the group comb wooded parcels. “We’ll be picking basically a bunch of different stuff out there today. Morels should be pretty good out there right now. This is probably the best chunk of the woods,” he explains.

Susan Bence

Northeast Wisconsin's Kewaunee County is home to 16 large dairy operations. On those CAFOs, or concentrated animal feeding operations, are tens of thousands of cows, who produce lots of manure. Neighbors have become increasingly worried that, that manure is contaminating nearby wells.

Though the county hugs Lake Michigan, it’s what is underground that makes the area particularly vulnerable to manure ending up where you don't want it – in the water people drink.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Charles Fishman and Seth Siegel know a thing or two about water.

Fishman is author of The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. Siegel wrote Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World.

They were among the 200 people interested in water issues who spent two days in Milwaukee this week. The draw was The Water Council’s 10th annual summit at which security was the theme.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Mechanical engineering researcher Junhong Chen believes his wafer-thin sensor will help detect even trace amounts of lead in water.

PhD candidate Guihau Zhou is one of six students who have dedicated three years helping Chen develop the technology in his lab at the Global Water Center in the Walker's Point neighborhood.

Zhou demonstrates by extracting a drop of water from a vial and releasing it onto a wafer-thin sensor. I wager it would take 10 sensors to fill the surface of a DIME.

malajscy / Fotolia

Ten years ago, Milwaukee’s first water summit took place under little fanfare. At the time, there was no Water Council and no Global Water Center according to Dean Amhaus, Water Council president.

County Grounds Coalition

Debate over a small wooded parcel in Wauwatosa, commonly called Sanctuary Woods, has been brewing for months. The 22-acre parcel lies within a much larger area that city leaders envision as the Life Sciences District.

On Tuesday, Wauwatosa's controversial plan came up at the Milwaukee County Park, Energy and Environment committee meeting. The room spilled over with people and the committee chair quickly arranged an extra room so folks wouldn’t have to sit on the floor.

Mark Hertzberg

After two years of intensive planning, Racine's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is about to become reality. Planners say its unique.

“We think, from what we can ascertain, that we are the only major city bike pedestrian master plan in the Midwest that been mostly privately funded,” Dottie-Kay Bowersox says. She’s not only an avid cyclist, but is also Racine’s public health administrator.

An existing pathway system that stretches along Lake Michigan’s shore gave planners a starting point.

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.

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