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The League Of Women Voters Fosters The 'Citizen Component' To Addressing Lead

Susan Bence
In Milwaukee, lead is a problem in the water supply of many old homes. Lead is also a problem in old paint in homes.

WUWM recently explored the challenges southeastern Wisconsin experiences in ensuring clean water to its citizens. Project Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled Waters asked: with so much of the world’s freshwater right next to us, why is access such an issue?

One problem has been lead in the water supply of many old homes, which have lead lateral lines. Lead is also a problem in old paint in homes and the soil around houses.

» What Milwaukee's Lead Problem Means For Children
» What Can Milwaukee Learn From Madison's Lead Pipe Removal?


The nonpartisan League of Women Voters is also focusing attention on lead in May. The League will host a community conversation on Saturday that examines the challenges of lead, specifically about testing children for lead poisoning. The program is a follow up to a panel the League held last November.

Credit Susan Bence
Louise Petering (left) and Ann Batiza, co-chairs of the League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County’s natural resources committee.

Ann Batiza and Louise Petering are two League members instrumental to the project. Petering says focusing on lead was a natural decision given the position the League is in to use its resources to establish an environment beneficial to the health of people and natural resources.

Petering also notes that lead is not an issue confined to Milwaukee — it's statewide.

"People in all communities where there is old housing need to understand this is their problem, too.  Whether it’s here, whether it’s Green Bay, whether it’s La Crosse, whether it’s Racine — wherever it is," she says.

There are so many moving parts around the issue of lead, according to Batiza, that the key ways voters can be empowered is through education. Bringing together community leaders, scientists, government officials, and practitioners will help foster the "citizen component" to lead.

"Our goal is that hopefully by providing a platform for conversation, and also for sharing of resources, that we can prevent an unnecessary poisoning of a child in Milwaukee and move this issue forward," says Batiza.

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.