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Of note: This week we highlight a story from our Mississippi River Ag & Water Desk collaboration. Wisconsin Watch’s Bennet Goldstein and Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco of WNIJ Northern Public Radio explore the impact of a large 3M factory that is suspected of tainting the drinking water of up to 300,000 people in the Quad Cities of Illinois and Iowa with PFAS, so-called forever chemicals. Earlier this month, the EPA announced that PFAS contamination from the 3M factory has created “an imminent and substantial endangerment” of public and private drinking water supplies. 3M has agreed to investigate PFAS contamination in private wells and public water systems up to 10 miles away from the plant.

We’d also like to highlight a feature on the Wisconsin Watch website: If you see a claim on social media about Tuesday’s election or one of the candidates — and you wonder if it’s true — ask Wisconsin Watch’s tipline. If you don’t find the answer there, you can ask us to investigate! 

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin Weekly roundup may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing. 

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3M’s 500,000-square-foot factory along the Mississippi River, near the village of Cordova, Ill. is shown. (Nick Rohlman / The Gazette)

Midwest river towns looking for answers after forever chemicals found in water

Wisconsin Watch/WNIJ Northern Public Radio — November 17, 2022

This fall, the towns and rural farmsteads along the Mississippi River received alarming news about their drinking water. Chemicals from a large 3M factory north of Cordova, Illinois found a way into the river and their wells. The facility employs about 500 people and makes the adhesives used in Post-It notes, Scotch tape and other popular products. It also produces a family of chemicals called PFAS, otherwise known as “forever chemicals,” whose threat to human health has prompted increasing concern among environmental regulators.

The landlord & the tenant

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and ProPublica — November 16, 2022

Angelica Belen, a young mother of four, rents a house near Milwaukee. The landlord,Todd Brunner, is a familiar figure to building-code inspectors for his long list of violations. The previous tenant tells her, “Baby, they shouldn’t have let you move in.” 

Mediatrice Niyonkuru, a farmer in Kansas City, Kansas, waters her crop on the New Roots for Refugees’ training farm. She bought some land of her own, but she lacks access to water. (Carlos Moreno / KCUR)

Midwest cities have plenty of vacant land. Why can’t urban farmers buy it?

Harvest Public Media — November 16, 2022

Urban farmers are trying to buy vacant lots to bring fresh, healthy food and green space to their neighborhoods, but they face challenges in acquiring that land.

(Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service archives)

Unhoused and underserved: Milwaukee sees increase in homeless resident deaths

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — November 14, 2022

Milwaukee is seeing a spike in deaths among people who lack a regular place to live but don’t meet the standard definition of homelessness. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office recorded 52 deaths of people experiencing homelessness in 2021, more than double the 21 deaths recorded in 2018.

Anti-abortion leaders want bigger role for crisis pregnancy centers. Critics say they mislead, misinform, pressure women.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — November 16, 2022

Anti-abortion proponents in Wisconsin have painted the state’s nearly 100 crisis pregnancy centers as integral to supporting women dealing with unexpected or unwanted pregnancies. But many in the healthcare community and beyond argue the centers do not offer a full range of care ― certainly not in a competent medical setting.

A few small Wisconsin towns are rejecting federal coronavirus relief funding

WPR — November 14, 2022

Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding are being funneled to local governments across Wisconsin as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. But four Wisconsin communities have turned down the money.

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