Experts, and even some regulators, say existing laws are failing to protect Wisconsin and the nation from harmful exposure to lead in drinking water that leaches from aging plumbing — a danger illustrated by the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Decades of toxic waste disposal at the Badger Army Ammunition Plant — including pouring millions of gallons a day of polluted water into Lake Wisconsin — have contaminated some nearby residents’ drinking water and raised concerns about the long-term effects on their health. But help may be on the way.
Levels of nitrate, one of the Wisconsin’s top drinking water contaminants, are increasing. Nitrate comes primarily from fertilizers, including manure, and puts infants and expectant mothers particularly at risk. A projected 94,000 households are drinking private well water with unsafe levels of nitrate. And many of them don’t even know it since few private well owners conduct regular testing.
Internal correspondence obtained by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism confirms discussions about the possible dismantling of the bureau and a reorganization that would move researchers into other agency divisions.
Critics, both inside and outside the agency, say such a reorganization would rob the state of impartial science that should guide critical natural resource management decisions.
Two new studies of private well water in Kewaunee County have linked contamination to fertilizer, livestock manure and human waste. “In these shallow bedrock areas, what you put on the surface, you will end up drinking eventually,” county conservationist Andy Wallander said.
The impact of a controversial bill that would restrict local government regulation of frac sand mines might be broader than originally thought, affecting the proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin and factory farms across the state, opponents said Thursday at a Capitol hearing.
As hunters prepare for Wisconsin’s wolf hunt, some scientists are warning that a proposal to sharply cull the population could destabilize it — just two years after wolves were removed from the federal endangered list.
In March, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources restructured the membership of its species advisory committees, reducing DNR staff, removing university researchers and adding more representatives from external interest groups.
While the state has made some progress with the backlog in the past two decades, a “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Frac sand fever has hit much of west-central Wisconsin, catching residents and local governments by surprise when demand for sand suddenly soared and permit applications began to pour in. The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year.