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

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As Great Lakes delegates take another look today at Waukesha’s application to divert Lake Michigan water, they may consider an unsettled issue.

Two weeks ago, the so-called Regional Body held a marathon session in Chicago and seemed to agree that Waukesha should trim down its proposed service area closer to the city’s boundaries. During the discussions, one question arose intermittently.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper

Cleaning up the Milwaukee River Basin, made up of the Menomonee, Kinnickinnic and Milwaukee Rivers, has become a decades-long endeavor.

Over time crews have removed dams, hauled out contaminated sediment and naturalized some stretches of once concrete-lined waterways.

Volunteers have also played a part. Saturday marked the 21st annual cleanup coordinated by the group Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

Teams slipped on gloves and boots to remove debris by the bagful at sites from Campbellsport south to Cudahy.

It was site captain Mitch Kulis' third cleanup.

Grace Heffernan

According the the EPA, American's generate roughly 254 million tons of trash a year, approximately 35 percent of which is recycled or composted. Meanwhile, Sweden boasts that more than 99 percent of all household waste there is recycled.

Swedish native Veronica  Lundback arrived in Milwaukee in 2001 to attend graduate school at UWM. Back at home, conservation was a way of life.

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Two days of crucial discussions that could affect Waukesha and its drinking water ended Friday afternoon in Chicago. Representatives of the Great Lakes states and Canadian provinces scaled-back part of the city's plan to divert water from Lake Michigan. The changes are recommendations but could influence the final outcome in June. 

Clay Bolt

The rusty-patched bumble bee used to be abundant, including in Wisconsin. Nature photographer Clay Bolt became interested in the species' dwindling numbers, and set out to create a documentary about his quest to find the bee.

The South Carolinian ended up at UW-Madison's Arboretum.

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Dozens of brew masters, water policy experts and engineers are gathering in Milwaukee this week to talk about the role water plays in beer making.

The 7th annual Great Lakes Water Conservation Conference kicks off Tuesday at Discovery World. Completely organized by volunteers, the two-day event moves from city to city around the Great Lakes Basin each year to keep the discussion going.

WUWM's Susan Bence caught up with a few of the volunteers to hear their perspectives on the role of the conference:

Erick Shambarger

The 13th annual Sustainability Summit begins Wednesday in Milwaukee.  It's taking place, for the first time, at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in the Menomonee Valley.

This year’s theme is engaging community, business & academia in sustainable action.

The summit, which brings local, regional and national leaders to address a variety of sustainability-related topics, has a new director, Mark Felsheim.

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North Point Lighthouse Friends spent years raising money to transform the 1888 station in Milwaukee's Lake Park from a decaying structure to gleaming public space.

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Concerns about water quality and quantity have become global themes, but Seth Siegel says until a few years ago, he knew nothing of water scarcity issues.

Siegel, a native of New York,  co-founded several companies, including Beanstalk, the world’s leading trademark brand extension company.

He says water enlightenment struck when he attended a seminar in Manhattan.

moonrise / Fotolia.com

Mention “lead” these days and Flint, Michigan and its contaminated water supply is probably the first thing that comes to mind. 

But the crisis spotlights issues facing much of the nation.

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Not so very long ago, no one would have gone out of their way to stroll along the Milwaukee River. It was murky and polluted.

Today the city showcases its downtown Riverwalk; while upstream, the Milwaukee River Greenway is creating trails and restoring habitat.

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The Obama Administration decided to spotlight the importance of water challenges facing communities and regions across the United States by hosting the first-ever White House Summit on Tuesday. 

The Water Council and the City of Milwaukee also announced Tuesday that the International Water Association, or IWA, hand-picked Milwaukee for its North American Regional Office.

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Milwaukee-based startup Solar Water Works and Veolia Water Milwaukee/OptiRTC, Inc. have been selected to participate in The Water Council's Pilot Deployment Program.

The Fund for Lake Michigan and MMSD have pledged $600,000 over the next two years to fuel the program that will give the startups the opportunity to test and validate their products in the real world.

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The Mid-West Energy Research Consortium, or M-WERC, is working to add Milwaukee to the energy tech landscape.

The group sprouted out of the interest of three universities and four industrial companies in 2009.

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Historically, water was key to Milwaukee’s booming innovative and industrial successes. Now there’s a concerted push to position Milwaukee as a water technology hub.

Hensley Foster is part of the action. His career as an industrial engineer stretched across four decades, but he says when it ended, his creative juices were far from tapped out.

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