Our Fresh Water: Manure

The bounty of Wisconsin’s farmers not only feeds and provides jobs for our state, but also effects the lives of people around the world. However, with large scale dairy operations comes a vast amount Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO). The manure created from these feedlots is often used as fertilizer for future crop cycles, which if not dealt with properly becomes a toxic agent that effects our fresh water supply. Agriculture industry manure, along with commercial fertilizers represent the greatest danger to our state’s water supply. Over 300 CAFOs dot Wisconsin’s rural landscape, some have dramatically polluted surface and groundwater supplies, especially in northeastern Wisconsin. Water required for these operations is wasteful; Wisconsin should see more local control of farming, where the land is able to be nurtured and tended, not tapped. Moving towards the Family Farm model, reviewing CAFO zoning laws, investing in manure digesters, a more equipped DNR, and minor herd reductions are all initial steps towards a safer water supply. Farmers are friends of Wisconsin.

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Our Fresh Water: Wisconsin Fishing

For more than a decade, walleye populations have been declining in hundreds of northern Wisconsin lakes. There are concerning studies and input from anglers regarding declining populations of a variety of fish, in some cases the average size of these fish is decreasing as well. Today, the average size of a panfish in Wisconsin waters is getting ever smaller, and panfish are the most heavily fished species in the state. Sport fishing generates a total economic impact of roughly 2.3 billion and draws approximately 336,000 non-anglers to Wisconsin each year. In 2015, The Wisconsin DNR reported that it sold about 1.4 million fishing licenses a year. Considering how intertwined our lives are with fishing, and the need to protect our sacred waters, the DNR will be at the forefront as stewards of our waters and the creatures that live within them. All of us must work on ending littering and increasing efficiency with water usage. Fishing is a defining piece of Wisconsin, extending beyond party lines, and must remain an important piece of our economy. As Governor, Wisconsin stands with it’s fish population in 2018.

 

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Our Fresh Water: The Great Lakes

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The Great Lakes represent the largest body of fresh water on our planet, holding nearly 20% of the world’s fresh water and approximately 90% of North America’s fresh surface water. The way humanity manages the upkeep of these sacred bodies of water will decide many things in years to come. Signed in to law by President George W. Bush in 2008, The Great Lakes Compact would ban diversion of water outside the basin, with limited exceptions. Any community applying for a diversion must show that it has exhausted all available options for getting water; a diversion must be a last resort and be approved by all eight Great Lakes states. The two Canadian provinces bordering the lake provide input, and any Great Lakes state may veto the diversion application. The Compact requires each Great Lakes State and province to set up water management programs to ensure the water we have is used wisely. The decision by the Gubernatorial Council to permit Waukesha to divert water from Lake Michigan was a poor one. Allowing water to be diverted from these bodies should be avoided at all costs. The care and status of these waters affects all of Wisconsin, and it is time to analyze why this completely unprecedented decision was made, while looking for other approaches. As stewards of our waterways, I ask Wisconsin to come together; it is our mutual respect for the Great Lakes which stands at the forefront of non-partisanship.

The Great Lakes II (Waukesha)

Classic_Lt_Blue_Reflective_345x345@2xWaukesha: A City once known as “The Saratoga of the West” for its delicious water and abounding fresh water springs. Many people would come from afar to drink from its wells, some even believing the water to have medicinal quality. However, as time passed, concrete and industry took over, leading to increased demand for water. In February of 2013, Waukesha City officials weren’t worried about the water supply. Waukesha water customers paid some of the lowest rates in the state. The more a customer used, the lower the rate. Waukesha’s policies actually encouraged lawn watering; you got a credit on your bill if you had water that was used but didn’t end up back in the sewer system. In 1987, Waukesha’s misuse of water led to the state of Wisconsin putting the city of Waukesha on notice because drinking water tested positive for radium levels that were twice the legal limit. Unchecked water pumped from sandstone wells led to depleted aquifers, and the more depleted the aquifers become, the higher the exposure to levels of radium. Waukesha is the poster child of what can happen when you assume that water will always just be there.

Given a deadline of June 2018 by the State of Wisconsin to treat their water supply appropriately, Waukesha decided to sue the EPA by challenging the validity of the 1970 Clean Drinking Water Act, and lost. Waukesha turned to the Great Lakes as a solution. A recent deal was made between Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly which led to the City of Milwaukee “selling” water to Waukesha. When lake water begins flowing west to Waukesha in 2022 or 2023, the city will stop using its 10 groundwater wells, including seven wells that draw radium-contaminated water from a deep sandstone aquifer. Waukesha will pay Milwaukee about $3.2 million in 2023 to deliver an average of 6.1 million gallons of lake water a day, as part of the deal, Duchniak said. The payment will increase steadily to about $4.5 million a year at midcentury when Waukesha’s daily average demand is expected to rise to 8.2 million gallons a day; however, once the lake dries up, there’ll be nothing to profit from.

The Great Lakes III

Waukesha does not really need to have up to 8.2 million gallons of Lake Michigan drinking water pumped to it at all. Waukesha has reasonable water supply alternatives. When faced with high radium content in their water supplies over forty other communities in Wisconsin were able to treat their water supplies and provide potable water to their customers years ago without going through a major diversionary pipeline.  Some quite laudable water conservation measures implemented by the city of Waukesha, leaving them very close to having enough water today for their existing customers. Why doesn’t Waukesha look at getting water from the nearby city of Pewaukee? Why not build a pipeline to neighboring towns like Delafield and pump water to Waukesha from there? Surely the town of Genesee could be a source of potable water within the Mississippi River Basin that would be far easier to access via construction of a pipeline to their water supply, and with no need for approvals from the eight State Governors. Waukesha should only ask for the amount of water they need to remedy their existing lack of “adequate supplies of potable water.” Molly Flanagan, VP of Policy at the Alliance For the Great Lakes, states that the City of Waukesha should not be granted access to water diversion from Lake Michigan for three main reasons: Waukesha does not justify why it needs so much more water than it is currently using. Waukesha does not consider all alternatives to provide potable water for it’s residents and also Waukesha proposes to divert Great Lakes water to communities that do not need Great Lakes water and have not requested it. Former Racine Mayor John Dickert states, “this is an issue bigger than all of us…the war for water has just begun.” Allowing Waukesha to divert water has set a bad precedent and will lead to more instances where arguments could be made allowing other areas to apply for a diversion. We cannot allow the Great Lakes to be privatized. As Governor, I will veto such measures, and begin finding practical and safe alternatives for drinking water in the name of all that is sacred on this Earth.

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Plastics & Packaging

Did you know that Wisconsinites currently throw away more than $100 million worth of recyclables in a typical year? Refuse is one thread that inarguably connects us all. All types of waste (and the ways in which we address their various forms) affect every one of us.  Landfills are stuffed with so many things which could easily be recycled but never are.  Many waste heap denizens have a lengthy life span, and plastic was built to last. As Governor, I will work with Wisconsin to develop, enhance, and expand applicable waste recycling programs, integrate other types of packaging, and decrease landfill content.

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This packaging material was created by Ecovative, a company that uses agricultural waste to grow packaging into different shapes using Mycellum (mushroom root), where the material behaves like a nutrient instead of a pollutant.