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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Chuck Quirmbach

The Milwaukee area just came through a bout of long, hard rain. When the deep tunnel capacity was maxed out on Sunday, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) made the tough call to release combined sewer water to Milwaukee waterways which flow into Lake Michigan.

Troye Fox / UWM Photo Services

Coronavirus is a respiratory virus, but a Milwaukee researcher is looking for signs of the virus somewhere you may not expect: human waste.

For years, scientist Sandra McLellan’s team has been tracking bacteria that can impact public health. McLellan is a professor at UWM’s School of Freshwater Sciences.

READ: South Shore Beach Goes Green For Science

Erica Heisdorf Bisquerra

Climate change poses daunting threats to every facet and form of life. The Great Lakes region is expected to be hit by an increase in heat waves, flooding and severe storms.

Climate change disproportionately impacts people already grappling with obstacles, particularly in urban areas.

Walnut Way would appear to fit that description. The 30-block section of Milwaukee, 2 miles northwest of downtown falls within the Lindsay Heights neighborhood.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a new database earlier this month. It’s called Nature’s Archives, and NOAA says it’s the most comprehensive temperature change database ever assembled.

Library of Congress

Fifty years ago on Wednesday, the first Earth Day kicked off with a huge bang. An estimated 20 million people rallied to the call to protect our most fundamental resources: land, water, and air.

Its founder, Gaylord Nelson, served as Wisconsin governor before moving on to the U.S. Senate. Here's an excerpt from his 1970 speech delivered at MATC in Milwaukee on the eve of the first Earth Day:

Melissa Tashjian

A few years ago, the city of Milwaukee launched a curbside organics pick-up pilot for households to sign up to recieve a special bin to toss yard waste and food scraps.

In 2016, 500 families signed up — now that number's at 519 — primarily in the Bay View, East Side and Riverwest neighborhoods. 

Michele Woodford

The presence of gray wolves in Wisconsin is considered a success story. The wolf is native to the Great Lakes and other parts of the U.S., but by the 1950s, the population was teetering on extinction. The gray wolf was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1975. By 2012, its numbers had rebounded and the gray wolf was taken off the list.

Spencer Platt / Getty Images

The new coronavirus is crippling countries around the world, forcing major cities into lockdown. Production has slowed, as some businesses have had to pause. The sluggish commercial climate along with travel restrictions have led to a drop in air pollution.  

Experts, including UW-Milwaukee distinguished professor of atmospheric science Paul Roebber, say the unintended relief the environment is experiencing will be temporary. But Roebber says lessons can be learned by considering similarities between the outbreak and climate change. 

Susan Bence

According to a report from the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, nearly 30% of the energy residents rely on is fueled by natural gas. That is almost 2% more than coal.

We Energies wants to increase its natural gas delivery capacity by laying a pipeline that would stretch from rural Walworth County to northcentral Kenosha County.

Chuck Quirmbach

Recently the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration reported that this January was the warmest on record for the globe. This information is part of a growing body of evidence that climate change can be seen and felt.

Susan Bence

An estimated 900,000 Wisconsin households rely on private wells for drinking water. It seems with every passing day, we learn wells are being impacted by contaminants — from manure to PFAS — putting families’ health at risk. Some people feel there's not enough support when they have to deal with a contaminated well.

READ: PFAS Concern Remains High In Marinette

Susan Bence

Milwaukee prides itself for being a water centric city, but it has a problem with its water quality. In 1987, Milwaukee was one of 43 areas around the Great Lakes put on a list no one wants to be on — the Areas of Concern list.

Susan Bence

In the coming months, Lake Effect will be exploring the impact of climate change through a series of conversations with Paul Roebber, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science at UW-Milwaukee. The series will include listener questions about how climate change is directly impacting our region and our lives.

Roebber explains that climate is a complex, dynamical system that changes over periods of time — some long and some short.

Susan Bence

Updated at 5:35 p.m. CT

No one had the opportunity to speak for or against the proposed Kletzsch Park dam project at Tuesday afternoon’s meeting of the Milwaukee County Parks, Energy and Environment Committee.

While the item was taken up almost immediately by the committee, it just as quickly voted to lay over the proposal to the call of the chair.

Unless the committee forwards the Kletzsch Park item to the Board of Supervisors before its end of term meeting on March 26, the item will effectively be dead.

Susan Bence

A family of man-made chemicals that can contaminate water, called PFAS, has been front and center in the news, across the United States and in Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Legislature said yes to a first step in limiting the use of the most visible source of PFAS contamination – firefighting foams. Then on Wednesday, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board took up a proposal to regulate PFAS and other chemicals that can contaminate groundwater.

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