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

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.

Susan Bence

There’s promising new research that could help farmers weather climate change. A team of scientists is experimenting with a hormone that naturally occurs in plants. The hormone slows the plant’s growth – meaning it would need less water during a drought.

There’s more research to be done, but it could eventually lead to a drought-survival spray farmers could use on crops.

Susan Bence

A group of manmade chemicals called PFAS, which are found in countless products from food packaging to firefighting foam, is in the news as cases of contamination multiply around the country.

The U.S. House passed a bill this week that would take preliminary steps to regulate the chemicals

In Madison this week, the Wisconsin PFAS Action Council, created to come up with PFAS-coping strategies, held its second meeting.

Susan Bence

Residents in Marinette, Wis., and neighboring Peshtigo have been calling for action on PFAS chemicals for years. On Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that a well outside that area has been contaminated. 

READ: Marinette Residents Want To Get PFAS Chemicals Under Control

Susan Bence

It has become nearly impossible to move protective environmental policy through the Wisconsin Legislature. But a bipartisan collection of state legislators believe they’ve come up with ways to tackle some of the state's water quality issues.

Andrew Feller

You might be surprised to learn surfing is increasingly popular on the Great Lakes. In fact, some enthusiasts plunge into Lake Michigan any chance they get, any time of year.

Shorewood resident Ken Cole hopes to make a statement through the boards he makes and rides.

Cole’s introduction, and instant infatuation, with surfing did not swell out of Lake Michigan. It was in a place far, far away and long, long ago. "It was the mid '90s," he recalls. "I was in Hawaii doing an internship and writing my dissertation."

Susan Bence

Wisconsin is a state rich in natural beauty and resources. But 2019 underscored the stresses those resources face. WUWM outlines the top challenges, as well as signs of improvement, in this past year.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers promised to start his first term by bringing science back to the state’s diminished Department of Natural Resources.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker, whom Evers, defeated had dramatically reduced the agency’s size and scope.

Katie Rademacher

The Milwaukee River Basin scored a C- for water quality in 2017. The grade has dropped to a D, according to a report recently released by Milwaukee Riverkeeper.

But that doesn't mean the entire 882-plus square mile basin that begins in Sheboygan and Fond du Lac counties is one big mess. For example, Pigeon Creek in Ozaukee County earned a B-. The creek is a tributary of the Milwaukee River, one of three rivers that fall within the basin.

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