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Wisconsin Water Week: Conference Connects Researchers & Public To Help Critical Resource

Susan Bence
The 2021 Wisconsin Water Week conference is working to educate more people about ways to protect Wisconsin's water and foster collaboration between water groups.

People from all across the state of Wisconsin are coming together virtually this week to talk about one of the state’s most important resources — water.

2021 Wisconsin Water Week is a conference meant to bring river and lake lovers from all over Wisconsin together to share research, educational strategies and new ideas about how to care for the water of the state.

Eric Olson is director and lake specialist for UW Stevens Point Extension Lakes, a team dedicated to bringing people together and educating them on programs and projects dedicated to the future of Wisconsin lakes.

He says events like 2021 Wisconsin Water Week are where the best education happens. “The education and the awareness happens through things like conferences and hanging out with the researchers and asking your questions,” he says.

While attendees of the conference won’t get to hang out in-person, the week-long conference running through March 12 is packed with sessions.

Olson says that when it comes to problems surrounding water, fostering collaboration is the best way to find solutions. He says the fight against invasive species in lakes has been strengthened by collaborations between lakefront property owners, researchers and the Wisconsin DNR. He hopes that the conference can be a place for more collaboration.

“To my mind, I can’t find better collaboratives around the state of how communities and the state agencies and local agencies work together to solve problems in our lake world. And we’re really just trying to say that model works, let’s extend it out. Let’s make sure river communities get the same thing, let’s make sure at the watershed scale we’re thinking along the same lines, let’s even scale it up to the Great Lakes,” he says.

Olson says the conference is also a great place to learn more about how individuals can get involved with protecting their local water.

“It’s easy to sort of care about Lake Michigan and love it and see it and know you want to work to protect it, it’s harder to figure out how are you going to do that,” he says. “Learning about that through events like Wisconsin Water Week helps people, I think, see themselves as active participants.”

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.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.