water

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.

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Hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin residents might be drinking tainted water. That report comes from the Center for Investigative Journalism. It conducted a yearlong investigation.

The findings indicate that private wells are more vulnerable than municipal water systems.

One-point-seven million Wisconsin residents rely on wells and private owners are responsible for their testing and maintenance.

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Roy Norton is Consul General of Canada in Chicago. Wisconsin is one of three states, along with Illinois and Missouri, in his purview.

This week the Consul General is visiting communities around Wisconsin. Much of his visit involves strengthening business ties between the state and Canada.

But Monday, Norton was in Milwaukee at the UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences, discussing another key issue – invasive species plaguing the Great Lakes.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

The Wisconsin DNR is being accused of failing to comply with the Clean Water Act. Sixteen citizens are claiming that Wisconsin has had “long-standing water problems from poor implementation and enforcement” of the Act.

Tuesday, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a request with the EPA demanding an investigation.

The DNR released a statement to WUWM saying:

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Before the Clean Water Act, what came out of wastewater pipes was essentially unregulated.

When Dave Fowler moved here decades ago to work for Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, the Milwaukee River was not a destination.

“Back in 1980, when I was on that river on a barge, I wouldn’t have wanted to eat my lunch out there. Now I’m seeing hundreds and hundreds of kayakers and boaters enjoying the downtown of Milwaukee because the river and the harbor is now considered a recreational opportunity, not an open cesspool,” Fowler says.

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The Clean Water Act sprang to life in 1972, largely due to public outrage. Lakes and rivers around the country had become increasingly toxic.

The Cuyahoga River in Ohio caught fire because of all the pollutants in it; nearby in Lake Erie massive numbers of fish died.

Wisconsin faced major obstacles. Engineer Lyman Wible worked with the Department of Natural Resources’ water resources team. He paints a bleak water quality picture statewide.

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In the 1960s, lining urban rivers with cement was considered to be state-of-the-art storm water management. But the practice  proved otherwise, in places like Milwaukee's south side where the Kinnickinnic River flows.

Over the years, during major storm events water has over-topped the concrete, causing damage and tragically, sometimes taking lives.

However, heaps of work and partnerships are going into naturalizing it. 

milwaukeeriverchallenge.com

The last two decades have been remarkable ones in the comeback of the Milwaukee River.  And while some of that comeback is in an environmental sense, right in the middle of the bigger picture of the river's comeback story was Gary Grunau.  Grunau spearheaded the redevelopment of Schlitz Park and the Riverwalk District.

Milwaukee Water Commons started up a year and a half ago. And, Melanie Ariens has played a pivotal role in the group's efforts to cultivate people’s desire to connect to and care for water.

As artist in residence, Ariens devised a way to amp up outreach. “I have the lucky job of people the creative, fun art person and I‘m also sort of a bike geek,” she explains.

Ariens set out to create a “rolling kiosk” by attaching a cart to the back of her bike. It’s big enough to hold a rain barrel – in fact it does.

Aedo Pultrone / Flickr

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fatal drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14.

Shockingly, 61 percent of children cannot perform basic swim safety skills according to a recent Red Cross survey. For adults who often supervise these children, eighteen percent of them fail to be competent swimmers themselves.

Twelve million private wells dot the U.S. landscape. Every year, about a million of them fail. The problems can catch owners by surprise and can be expensive.

Marian Singer and her partner, Nick Hayes, think their state-of-the-art sensor will prevent those pricey crises by alerting people when their well is at risk.

“Nick and I found out that unless you were drilling a well or repairing a well, no one knew what was happening with ground water,” Singer says.
 

Carroll University

Public art often gets a bad rap – rightly or wrongly.  Typically an artist is chosen, a piece is created, installed, and the only real public part is whatever reaction you have to it once it’s on display.  Artist Kasia Ozga works differently.

She takes the public part of public art quite literally.  Her latest project is a public art installation based on water at Carroll University in Waukesha, being installed with the public’s help and input at the university.

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project / facebook.com

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is not primarily about helping surfers in trouble – though the group recently elicited the help of one of the world’s pioneers in the field of surf rescue.

The mission of the project is to convince municipalities to have better safety measures in place at Great Lakes beaches, and also to make water safety training mandatory for children growing up in the region.

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MeterHero rewards users for using less water and electricity. McGee Young came up with the idea with his students at Marquette University.

The story starts a few years ago, when McGee Young was teaching a course on innovation and sustainability. He and his students wanted to find a way to help people realize how much water they use.

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Most of the Kinnickinnic River looks like a giant drainage ditch. However, work is underway to restore the river to it's natural flow.

Back in the 1960s, the KK was channelized with concrete slopes. At the time, the technique was considered to be a state-of-the-art storm water management system. Instead, the channels led to devastating flooding.

By 2007, the river was named one of the 10 most endangered rivers in the United States.

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