The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution this week that urges immediate action to separate the Chicago River system from the Mississippi River Basin. The artificial connection between the two waterways was created a century ago by the Chicago canal system is now the greatest threat to allow invasive species, like the the Asian carp, to reach the Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes from the Mississippi.
There are currently mulitiple studies underway to determine what is the best course of action to separate the two, but it is dangerous to wait too long while the Asian carp threat nears our aquatic ecosystems. Milwaukee hopes to be the first of many Great Lakes cities, including Chicago, to pass such resolutions so real action is taken to stop an Asian carp invasion.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper is a partner of the Southeastern Wisconsin Watershed Trust, or Sweet Water Trust. One of Sweet Water’s major initiatives over the last few years was to work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the EPA, MMSD and others to craft Wisconsin’s first watershed-based stormwater permit. We are pleased to announce that 11 municipalities (including Milwaukee County) within the Menomonee River Watershed have agreed to participate in this watershed-based stormwater permit, which went into effect November 29, 2012.
On November 26, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finally released its 2012 Recreational Water Quality Criteria (RWQC). These criteria for recreational water use were last issued in 1986. In 2000, the BEACH act directed EPA to conduct more studies associating bacteria and pathogens with human health, and then to publish new criteria for bacteria indicators that would better protect public health.
In April 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) launched a comprehensive review of rules impacting small business, which was prompted by Governor Walker’s “Executive Order #61-- Relating to Job Creation and Small Business Expansion”” issued on February 22, 2012. This order required all state agencies to cooperate with the Small Business Regulatory Review Board to identify existing rules hindering job creation and small business growth, and to make recommended changes to rules to reduce burden on small businesses.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper strongly agrees with Mayor Barrett's recent op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on the importance of following the Great Lakes Compact while Waukesha seeks approval to use Lake Michigan water. For Waukesha to access water from the Great Lakes, approval must be granted by all eight Great Lakes states (and two Canadian provinces). These entities are entrusted with protecting the world's greatest fresh water resource, and it is vital that communities outside the Great Lakes basin, such as Waukesha, fulfill every legal and environmental requirement laid out by the Compact.
These requirements are explained in Mayor Barrett's op-ed to show why he is so committed to protecting the Great Lakes on this issue.
With hearings planned for this afternoon and this evening (November 27th) to give community members a chance to voice their concerns to the American Transmission Co. (ATC) and the Public Service Commission (PSC), Wauwatosa’s power line project is making the news. ATC's plan to build new high voltage power lines along Underwood Creek has received pressure from homeowners, local politiciancs, We Energies, and other organizations (including Milwaukee Riverkeeper) to seek an alternative route.
The effects of the torrential storms of July 2010, which poured more than nine inches of rain in three days, are still being felt in neighborhoods around the city. Residents are still dealing with damage to their homes and properties from aging, leaking sanitary sewers that fill with rain and stopped flowing, which allowed wastewater to back up into the basements of many households.
Thus far, the city has spent more than $1 million to repair and replace municipal sanitary sewer mains so public sanitary sewers do not leak and allow storm water to enter following a major rainfall. However, privately owned sanitary laterals that connect houses to the street sewers still need to be addressed.
Representatives from environmental and conservation groups from six other Great Lakes states recently toured Waukesha to get a better understanding of Waukesha's need to for Great Lakes water. Waukesha needs the approval of the eight Great Lakes states to divert Lake Michigan water across the sub-concontinental divide, a practice that has tradionally been prohibited by a Great Lakes protection compact. Waukesha is the first community outside the Great Lakes drainage basin to seek such an exception. The out-of-state groups want to make sure that, if the deal were to be approved, Waukesha would follow the rules of the compact.
On October 18th, Milwaukee Riverkeeper Executive Director Karen Schapiro spoke with WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence about the Clean Water Act's 40th Anniversary. This piece of monumental environmental legislation, passed with strong bi-partisan support, has done more to restore our waterways than any other law - before or since. Yet, there remains more work to be done today!
Over 170 people joined us at Discovery World on October 10 to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. If you didn't make the event, you still have time to see our exhibit, The Clean Water Act: Restoring Milwaukee's Rivers. The exhibit will be open in the Discovery World Promenade until November 25th. We hope you'll take a look and learn more about the history of our rivers and the legislation that makes so much of our work possible! Discovery World info and directions
* Note: there is no charge to see the exhibit!