WUWM: Environmental Reporting

Many of us are environmentally aware — many recycle, some conserve water, you might ride a bike to work. But we do face profound environmental challenges.

Help WUWM’s Environmental Reporter Susan Bence dig deeper into the issues you are most concerned about.

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Ways to Connect

samopauser, Adobe Stock

New York author Seth Siegel has spoken on water issues around the world. In 2016, he became UW-Milwaukee’s School of Freshwater Sciences first senior water policy fellow.

That appointment allowed Siegel to dive into research for his latest book, Troubled Water: What’s Wrong With What We Drink. It explores a multitude of drinking-water problems that plague communities around the United States — from contaminated wells to crumbling infrastructure.

Eddee Daniel

For years, Wauwatosa residents and visitors have gravitated to the hush of 50-plus acres of greenspace fondly called Sanctuary Woods. It falls within the Milwaukee County Grounds, the largest remaining open space in the county.

Over recent years, sections, especially along its southern and western stretches, have given way to development.

As Wauwatosa leaders began drafting a master plan for the district, some residents worried Sanctuary Woods might be swallowed by development.

Susan Bence

South Shore Park in Bay View overlooks Lake Michigan. But while its greenspace and pavilion may be Milwaukee County Park gems, South Shore's beach has consistently ranked among the worst in the nation because of poor water quality. After years of discussion, a plan is inching forward to move the beach south where the water more naturally circulates.

Residents gathered Monday evening at the park pavilion above the beach to learn more about the plan.

Lauren Sigfusson

The topic of recycling evokes a variety of reactions. For some people, their practice is a passion. For others, it's sheer confusion.

We want to help you feel confident that what you throw away lands where it belongs. That's why we recently reached out to you, our listeners, asking for your questions about recycling, reusing or garbage.

Beats Me: What Questions Do You Have For WUWM's Beats Reporters?

Mariakray / stock.adobe.com

If you order a drink at a Milwaukee coffee shop or restaurant, there’s a good chance you automatically get a plastic straw. But an ordinance being considered in Milwaukee would limit plastic straws from being handed out at food and beverage establishments unless you ask for one.

There was no real discussion when the Common Council voted Tuesday on the plastic straw ordinance. Alderman Russell Stamper and three fellow alderpersons wanted to cosponsor the bill. Only Alderman Bob Donovan expressed opposition — briefly.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee County Parks is rich in green space — 157 parks and a total of more than 15,300 acres of green space — but less well off when it comes to funding. The system has $362,000 more in tax levy in 2020 than was allotted in 2019, but over the past decade the parks department has reduced tax levy funding and has turned to direct revenue to fill in the gap.

Susan Bence

People have been talking for years about Asian carp and how the invasive fish might impact the Great Lakes.

fullempty / stock.adobe.com

If you’re one of those people who feels overwhelmed by the waste we humans create, you might take heart with a move made by Milwaukee's Public Safety and Health Committee. It voted Thursday to prohibit local food and alcohol beverage establishments from providing customers with plastic straws.

Arlin Karnopp

Updated Wednesday at 9:12 a.m. CT

Leaders of a rural county in Wisconsin are not pleased with how the quality of its ground water is being reflected by local reporters.

Lafayette County seems like an idyllic rural spot in Wisconsin, but a local committee made waves Tuesday when it announced its board and any other officials need permission before talking about local water quality.

Office of Senator Tammy Baldwin

The five Great Lakes — Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario — contain more than 20% of the world's surface freshwater. But the basin is also plagued with challenges, from algal bloom to invasive species.  

UW-Milwaukee

An anonymous donor has pledged $10 million to help fund a new research vessel for UW-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences.

University officials said Wednesday it will be the most advanced research vessel on the Great Lakes, and the first designed specifically to conduct sophisticated research within the basin.

The vessel will replace the Neeskay, an Army T-boat the university bought and converted nearly 50 years ago.

Susan Bence

Starting Friday, people leading projects designed to preserve native plants and animals are meeting to report and share ideas. They're gathering at a nature preserve north of Port Washington.

It's kind of like a summit on steroids. Each presenter has 20 minutes to dazzle fellow conservationists with charts and graphs. But this is no laughing matter – habitat is dwindling, and so are species.

chalermchai / stock.adobe.com

The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservancy, fondly known as The Domes, is perhaps equal parts iconic and at risk. Like fellow Milwaukee County facilities, it is woefully in need of maintenance.

Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, whose district includes The Domes, is proposing a new source of revenue: growing hemp in one of the dome's greenhouses.

Susan Bence

More and more people appear concerned about the public health dangers posed by lead – especially to young children and pregnant women. Among the groups trying to move from conversation to action is the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County. The group convened a roundtable discussion Tuesday in West Allis.

Michael Kienitz

Award-winning photojournalist Michael Kienitz's career was sparked by the Vietnam War. The Madison, Wis. native and at the time UW-Madison student says he was struck by the contrast between the protesting he saw around him and how it was reported in newspapers. Kienitz picked up a camera and never put it down.

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