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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Susan Bence

If you're feeling blue about news that a million of the world's species are threatened, this might boost your spirits: A "barn swallow condo" is going up in Waukesha County.

A group of UW-Milwaukee students teamed up with a conservation biologist and a landscape architect to help design the barn swallow habitat prototype.

Susan Bence

Some people are concerned about the many lead pipes that deliver water into older Milwaukee homes. Others applaud the city for tackling stormwater management through green infrastructure. But how is Milwaukee doing at creating a comprehensive water management plan?

Susan Bence

We all know water is fundamental to our lives, and to all livings things. But do you ever stop and think about the water you have access to, and if it is actually clean?

It depends on your perspective, says John Luczaj, head of UW-Green Bay’s geosciences program.

» See More Project Milwaukee: Great Lakes, Troubled Waters Stories

Susan Bence

For months Milwaukee’s health department has been trying to dig itself out of a muddle, while city leaders continue to try to figure out what went wrong.

Problems became public in early 2018 when health commissioner Bevan Baker resigned. At the same time, the community learned that the childhood lead program – long a source of pride among city leaders – was in disarray.

Outrider Foundation

If you’ve seen Milwaukee Brewers' Brent Suter in action, you might have noticed his reusable water bottle. It’s nothing new to the pitcher.

Suter has been concerned about the environment for years. It started with a love of nature.

Growing up in Cincinnati Ohio, he was in the Boy Scouts, had pets, and loved nature and animals. His love shifted to concern when Suter was a freshman in high school.

Update:

Thursday, the Milwaukee County Board made its voice heard by voting 16-0 against allowing We Energies' Oak Creek powerplant to raise its daily maximum discharge of mercury into Lake Michigan.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has the final say in granting a the mercury variance permit to the electric company.

Original story, February 12:

A junk removal company's job is to get rid of junk, right? You might be picturing a scene from the TV show Hoarders — stuff being thrown into a big dumpster as quickly as possible, headed for the landfill. For Wisconsin veteran Andrew Weins, his goal — and that of his junk removal and hauling business — is to take absolutely nothing to the dump.

His philosophy is reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle (in that order), and if all that fails, dispose responsibly.

Susan Bence

The EPA estimates that more food ends up in landfills than any other category of waste. Efforts are underway to tip the tide in Wisconsin. Some people have created their own compost systems at home, others compost through neighborhood gardens. Melissa Tashjian, however, wants to reach a wider audience.

Susan Bence

Monday marked the 49th anniversary of Earth Day, the day founded by Wisconsin’s Gaylord Nelson to focus attention on environmental affairs.

Earlier this month, political and environmental activist Winona LaDuke visited the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to present her lecture, "The Next Energy Economy: Grassroots Strategies to Mitigate Global Climate Change, and How We Move Ahead."

LaDuke is based on the White Earth reservation in Minnesota and was also a two-time vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket.

Susan Bence

We throw our paper and aluminum cans in a bin, a crew picks up the materials, and we assume we’ve made a difference. But experts say there’s still confusion on what can be recycled.

Brian Jongetjes’ family has been in the waste business since 1969. Today, their company, called Johns Disposal, handles both garbage and recycling for communities and businesses in an eight-county area.

Jongetjes says their workers routinely find stuff that can’t be recycled. “Dog leashes or rope or wire, it wraps around everything," he adds, “We hate that.”

UW-Milwaukee SALUP

In 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy launched its first solar decathlon, giving college teams the opportunity to design energy-efficient houses powered by renewable energy. Since its inception, more than 150 collegiate teams from around the world have participated.

NICOLAS LARENTO/stock.adobe.com

An April ritual took place Monday evening in every Wisconsin county: the Conservation Congress held its annual spring meeting.

The hearings are a chance for the public to give input on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) proposed rule changes and advisory questions related to fish and wildlife management in the state. And Conservation Congress advocates think more people should care about the process.

manure-runoff-cafo-kewaunee-county-wisconsin
Arlin Karnopp

Kewaunee County, 100 miles north of Milwaukee, has become the poster child of unfortunate distinction: an alarming number of its private wells are contaminated. On Tuesday, residents will hear from a scientist who has been studying the county's drinking water.

So, how are the wells becoming contaminated?

In recent years, more mega dairy operations called CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) have swallowed up Kewaunee County's fragile fields.

Michelle Maternowski

The three bee-hive shaped glass structures that are home to tropical, desert and rotating show installations have glistened within Mitchell Park on Milwaukee's near south side for nearly 50 years. But like other Milwaukee County facilities, the buildings' maintenance has been chronically deferred.

Safety concerns piqued in 2016 when a piece of concrete fell inside the Desert Dome. As a result, all three closed for several weeks.

Susan Bence

It's bird migration season in Wisconsin, and scientists are noticing unsettling changes.

Ornithologist Bill Mueller is among them. As the director of the Western Great Lake Bird and Bat Observatory north of Port Washington, he has been observing a drop in numbers over recent years. 

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