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.

Ways to Connect

Elizabeth Ferris

More than 1,300 people are expected to gather at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Saturday afternoon to march for science. Organizers here drew inspiration from a march – also taking place on Earth Day – in Washington DC. Both marches, along with more than 600 others scheduled around the world, hope to draw attention to the role science plays in health, economies and governments.

Susan Bence

Upate:

The Compact Council deliberated for less than a half hour Thursday before it unanimous voted not to repoen or modify the decision allowing Waukesha to draw Lake Michigan water.

Wisconsin DNR secretary Cathy Stepp said the Compact Council's final review further reinforces that the Great Lakes Compact works.

Chris Young

As Alverno College students count down to graduation day, several seniors shared their choices and concerns for the environment.

Hannah Burby says her family set an environmental example - outdoor people, who reuse cream cheese containers, not Tupperware. Recycling is not an option, it’s mandatory. Burby’s “people” are engineers.

“I wanted to apply that and be an environmental engineer, and now I’ve changed my mind to do something more community-based,” Burby says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

More than a decade ago, residents living near the last operating landfill within Milwaukee's limits were presented with a challenge -- as well as an opportunity. As the landfill closed, neighbors organized. And today, a 20-acre park - featuring a labyrinth, bronze sculptures, a playground and more - stands in its spot.

Near the spot where West Keefe Avenue meets the Menomonee River Parkway, Milwaukee’s Commissioner of Public Works Ghassan Korban touts the park as a stormwater management marvel.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

UW-Milwaukee student Jessica Hufford spearheaded the first week-long No Impact Challenge on campus last year. She's working to get more students involved this year.

"The way the challenge works is that there is a theme for each day, consumption on Sunday, trash Monday, etc. and the challenge builds on itself throughout the week to ease into sustainable living," Hufford says.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

A decades-old tradition unfolded at West Allis Central High on Monday evening - and at schools and courthouses in every county in the state. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress conducted its annual spring hearings.

Susan Bence

More than 300 hundred people came out Thursday evening to view the latest iteration of a plan for 1200-acres in the southwest portion of Wauwatosa, but their focus was on a small parcel within the plan. Sanctuary Woods is located within what’s commonly known as the County Grounds.

Some see its 22 acres as an oasis within a hub of activity surrounding Watertown Plank Road: traffic and business; the medical complex and UWM’s Innovation Campus: a new apartment complex. Some of that development has swallowed up, what for decades, was green space.

Courtesy of Tetra Tech EM Inc.

Update:

A bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved the sale of the former Milwaukee Solvay Coke & Gas Company site to Wisconsin Gas LLC, a We Energies affiliate. It was the only bidder, offering $4 million for the 47-acre parcel.

We Energies is among several businesses that are responsible for the site's environmental cleanup. The utility used to operate a gas works there years ago.

Before previous owner Golden Marina filed for bankruptcy, it had hoped to create housing and a marina there.

steuccio79 / fotolia

Update, Wednesday, April 5 at 9:30 a.m.:

The Senate voted Wednesday morning along party lines, 19-13, to move the bill forward. It exempts existing high-capacity wells from review of the Department of Natural Resources if the well needs to be repaired, replaced or sold.

Susan Bence

John Dickert has been Racine's mayor since 2009. This summer, he’ll abandon that post to take a job with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities initiative.

The organization represents mayors from more than 120 American and Canadian cities.

Last January inside Racine City Hall, Dickert addressed a swarm of journalists. They were there to learn about the contentious plan allowing the City of Waukesha to divert drinking water from Lake Michigan.

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

River Revitalization Foundation is a nonprofit headquartered in what originally was a brick ranch along the Milwaukee River, upstream from downtown Milwaukee. Surrounded by restored shoreline, the south-facing portion of the building’s roof will soon be topped with ten solar panels.

That’s if Mike Ballo achieves his goal to raise $10,567 to install the panels. The panels themselves were donated to the foundation.

Cheryl Nenn

Over the last seven years, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has pumped $2.2 billion into restoring the Great Lakes - thousands of projects both large and small. President Trump would like to eliminate the fund by 2018.

READ: Trump's Budget Eliminates Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Funding

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative came to life during the Obama Administration, but it's seed was planted during George W. Bush's tenure.  And, now President Trump's budget calls for defunding the program.

Ashley Irvin

The vote of the Republican-controlled Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform split 3-2 along party lines.  The committee chair opted for a paper ballot vote, rather than convening face-to-face.

Earlier this month a large crowd gathered for a public hearing, which stretched  from morning into the evening. Tuesday's vote advances the bill to the full Senate, which is likely to take it up next week.

Original Post - March 16, 2017:

Susan Bence / Milwaukee Public Radio

One of the startups selected for this year's The Water Council's BREW Accelerator program was on display last week outside the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District headquarters.

Menomonee River water was being sucked up into the CORNCOB demonstration model – picture a water heater tipped on its side. A gleaming metal barrel connected to pipes and valves is being monitored by a sophisticated computer system.

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