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.


Ways to Connect

Susan Bence

The Get The Lead Out Coalition and the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition had been looking forward to formally sharing what they consider compelling evidence to Milwaukee city leaders for weeks. They insist contamination caused lead pipes through which more than 70,000 homes receive city water is as important a threat to public health as lead in paint.

We Energies hopes to increase the amount of mercury it is allowed to release from its coal-burning Oak Creek power plant into Lake Michigan. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a hearing Monday as part of its review process.

Jason Knutson, wastewater section chief with the DNR, attempted to appease the crowd and explain the mind-numbingly complex five-year waste water permit We Energies wants to renew.

Screenshot/YouTube/Milwaukee Water Works

Clean drinking water has become a topic of conversation throughout the U.S. - from arid states worrying about sufficient quantities, to rust belt cities grappling with failing infrastructure and old lead pipes.

While the Great Lakes represent one of the world’s largest freshwater systems, its cities are not immune from concerns about drinking water.


Luke Collins

The Nature Conservancy, a conservation group with programs spanning the globe, hopes that a report it compiled will help build the case for “natural” climate solutions.

The report lays out how forests, wetlands and agricultural lands can significantly drive down greenhouse gas pollution.

Susan Bence

Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission voted Monday to consider the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts and its grounds for historic designation.

Designed more than a half century ago, the facility fills a large city block along the eastern edge of the Milwaukee River between Kilbourn and State Streets.

Susan Bence

Farming has been a cornerstone of Wisconsin’s heritage and economy, but its landscape is changing. Small family farms have given way to large ones called CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). The trend has heightened concerns among some that raising large numbers of farm animals is harmful to the environment.

Twenty years ago, the CAFO count was close to 90. Today, there are more than 300. While some raise hogs and others poultry, the majority are dairy operations.

Emily Thiem

Understanding the enormous timescales in our planet’s long history can be difficult — practically mind-boggling. But Marcia Bjornerud hopes her new book Timefulness: How Thinking Like A Geologist Can Help Save The World makes that history accessible and helps us grasp the magnitude of our effects on the planet.

The professor of geology at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., says the term "timefulness" is a counterpoint to timelessness.

George Thomas/Flickr

Detroit-based journalist Anna Clark's recently-published book The Poisoned City: Flint’s Water and the American Urban Tragedy is a a deep dive into the public health crisis that continues to reverberate in Flint, Mich.

Clark was in Milwaukee Wednesday talking about her research at Marquette University. She hopes other communities can avoid the tragedy that struck Flint where children's health had already been permanently impacted before the city took action.

Kenny Yoo/Milwaukee Bucks

The new Bucks arena is the world's first bird-friendly arena, according to the U.S. Green Building Council. Bryan Lenz, bird collision campaign manager with the American Bird Conservancy, had a lot to do with Fiserv Forum's owner's decision to consider bird safety.

Hilary Dickinson/Milwaukee Bucks

Updated Jan. 13, 2019

The Bradley Center's steel roof was demolished Sunday with explosives.

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

You had to be listening closely to pick up an environmental message during Tony Evers' inaugural speech on Monday, but it was there. Evers drew applause when he talked about the need to address issues that matter to the state's younger residents.

"Like our young people who work multiple jobs just to stay here and afford their student loan payments. They’re also looking to us to make sure we take gun violence and global warming seriously," Evers said.

But does that mean Evers will work to mitigate the effects of climate change?

Cornelia Kopp/Flickr

An invasive insect made its way into some wreaths and other evergreen decorations across Wisconsin this holiday season. The tiny pest was found in decorative greenery — not Christmas trees — brought here from another state.

Susan Bence

Wisconsin is rich in lakes, streams and wetlands. Throughout 2018 concern among those who steward those resources rose. Let's review some challenges facing water protection over the past year, along with an example of collaboration.

READ: Air Quality & Lead Among Environmental Concerns Of 2018

Susan Bence

Environmental issues cascaded throughout the last year. Scientific updates about climate change and issues around safe drinking water barely scratch the surface of concerns affecting people’s lives and health. So, let’s review some of the complex environmental issues that fueled debate in 2018.

READ: How Did Wisconsin's Waters Fare In 2018

Among the environmental issues cascading throughout the last year in the Milwaukee area, the issue of lead was inescapable.

Tim Fraley

The Environmental Protection Agency laid out a proposed rule Tuesday that it says ends confusion about waterways that fall under federal clean water protection. But critics say the measure would strip streams and wetlands of needed protections.

Debate over how deep U.S. water regulations should wade isn't new. The most recent clash came when the Obama administration spearheaded something called the Waters of the United States.