WUWM: Environmental Reporting

The environmental beat is massive -  from covering threats to air and water, to sharing scientific research, to uncovering the individuals and groups working to create sustainable communities.

Although I (WUWM's environmental reporter Susan Bence) have reported on a variety of stories, I continue to think 'I need to dig deeper.' So, I'm turning to you to help make that happen.

Wisconsinites, what have you been wondering about when it comes the environment? Questions about conservation? Climate change? You ask and I'll report.

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Ways to Connect

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Congress ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to find a way to prevent aquatic invasive species from passing from the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes Basin, and the reverse.

Alyysa Armbruster

Julia Robson and Alyssa Armbruster hope their 330-mile hike from Milwaukee to Lake Superior makes a statement about how much they care about the Great Lakes. Their aim is to raise awareness and funds for conservation. 

Greenfield Little League

While the Milwaukee County Parks system is rich in greenspace, it is low on cash. The department hopes to lease one of its parks to help relieve a bit of its more than $240 million in deferred maintenance.

Parks director John Dargle told the Milwaukee County Parks, Energy and Environment Committee Tuesday that the plan to lease Kulwicki Park to the City of Greenfield is a sound financial move.

MILWAUKEE WATER WORKS

Update:  Since the story aired, the Milwaukee Department of Public Works provided the folowing information:

Milwaukee's final 2017 budget approved by the Common Council adjusted the year's eplacement targets to 300 day cares and 300 residential properties. DPW reports 355 replacements have been completed, 135 more are scheduled.  The department it will replace 600 lines by year's end.    

Original Post: Mayor Tom Barrett called this year's budget the starting point for removing lead pipes throughout the city.  

No one knows more about the risks and challenges of dealing with lead in drinking water than Marc Edwards. The Virginia Tech civil engineering professor not only helped hold a spotlight up to Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, but years earlier he investigated a public health disaster in Washington D.C. that ended with Congressional hearings in 2010.

Edwards says the challenges around lead in water begin with reliable lead testing because lead is often occurs in particulate form.

Dmitry Naumov, fotolia

One year ago, Mayor Tom Barrett surprised Milwaukeeans when he advised residents living in houses built before 1951 to install water filters. That's the era when the pipes that carry water from mains to households were made of lead.

Susan Bence

South Shore Beach in Bay View is nestled just south of a yacht club and its parking lot. That's part of the problem. For years stormwater has flowed off its surface directly into the lake.

Then there are the birds. They love to hang out at the beach. Their poop contributes to the beach's challenge with E coli bacteria.

Jen Schwabe and Border Collie Ray were hired to help tackle that problem. The dog is specially trained to “shoo” them away.

Brittnie Peck

Towering Pines Camp For Boys came to life in 1945. As environmental awareness was on the rise in the 1970s, the northern Wisconsin camp pioneered an environmental immersion program that garnered national attention.

They call it acclimatization.

The campers merge with the natural world – in some unconventional ways. For instance, camp leaders teach the kids what it feels like to navigate the world like a raccoon.

SUSAN BENCE

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp has accepted an appointment with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

She's been named deputy administrator for Region 7, which includes Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.

Gov. Walker selected Stepp to head the Wisconsin DNR back in 2011 - the first woman to do so. Before that, Stepp and her husband owned a home building business and from 2003 to 2007, she served as a Republican State Senator representing the Racine area.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Hannah Uitenbroek knew very little about food justice when she arrived in Milwaukee a year ago.

After graduating from college with a degree in sociology degree, the Appleton native spent a year of service in Connecticut and then, "literally googled food justice in Milwaukee and Lutheran Volunteer Corps popped up." She applied and became All Peoples Church's food justice organizer.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

Thursday, the GOP-dominated Joint Finance Committee voted on the DNR's budget. Emotions flared and sparks flew, but in the end, the measure to restructure the DNR passed 12 to 4.

While Democrats urged folding in more funding to protect the environment, they really dug in their heels when it came to plans to reorganize the agency.

In recent years, the department has gone through a number of significant changes.  For example - in 2015, some 60 scientists worked in the DNR’s central science services bureau. Today 15 remain.

Jessica Grow, School of Freshwater Sciences

The dangerous blue-green algae in Milwaukee's Veterans Park lagoon continues to pose a risk to human and animal health. Last weekend, organizers of a dragon boat festival moved the event elsewhere because of toxins created by the algae. And this coming weekend, water skiers had planned to compete in a two-day competition.

The water ski event was canceled Wednesday, due to the water's condition.

alumroot

Foxconn’s plans to build a huge LCD screen manufacturing facility in southeastern Wisconsin are another step closer to reality. On Monday, an Assembly committee voted in favor of a $3 billion tax incentives package to lure the company here.

Gov. Walker and fellow Republicans are pushing for the deal. Democrats on the committee pushed for nearly two dozen amendments in an effort to soften the burden on taxpayers. But, all of them failed.

Root-Pike WIN

The State Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy will vote Monday afternoon whether to give Foxconn $3 billion in incentives.

Supporters say the huge factory would result in thousands of jobs and a significant boost to the state’s economy. Critics say the bill comes at too high a price - in terms of dollars and its environmental impacts.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

After a decade leading Milwaukee's All Peoples Church, Pastor Steve Jerbi left for a post in California. In his parting sermon, he told his congregation: “When I think about the ministry we have done together, it has been a ministry of providence.”

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