Creating the Roadmap to Change

Nov 26, 2019 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Drinking Water, Local Groups, Newsletters, Water Policy

The content below is a selected article from our fall 2019 WaterWays newsletterDownload a PDF of the full Newsletter.

By Raj Shukla

River Alliance of Wisconsin empowers people to protect and restore water—in all its forms, for all of its functions, and for all who depend on it for life, livelihood, celebration and ceremony.

For 26 years, River Alliance has been a trusted leader in the conservation community. Our strength comes from members like you. Together we have built a reputation as fierce and effective advocates for our waters.

There are generational opportunities right now to advance our mission in new and exciting ways.

Governor Evers declared 2019 the “Year of Clean Drinking Water,” while Speaker Vos convened a Water Quality Task Force to examine how Wisconsin can tackle some of our biggest issues. This Task Force held 13 public hearings around the state from May – September of 2019.

Did you know that River Alliance staff and/ or members attended every Water Quality Task Force hearing?

People from all walks of life testified. They told stories of fear, hardship, courage and creativity. For example, we heard from a couple in Nelsonville who can no longer retire in the town they’ve long called home because their water is contaminated by nitrates. (In fact, nitrates came up at every single hearing.) We also heard from the water protectors in Marinette who are fighting tooth and nail to block the Back Forty sulfide mine that threatens the Menominee River and the drinking water of hundreds of thousands. Farmers who practice a new brand of agriculture that centers water stewardship alongside economics testified, as well as county conservationists and members of farmer-led watershed councils. Hundreds of people spoke at the hearings, and more sent written comments to the Task Force. All of these people are united by their concern and care for our state’s waters.

This issue of WaterWays shares some tangible examples of how—with your help—we’re making progress toward clean water with creative and science-based solutions, lots of local and grassroots people power, and innovative partnerships.

For example, we’re thrilled to announce that River Alliance’s Clear Water Farms program to engage Wisconsin farms in water stewardship practices has reached a milestone. Miltrim Farms, a Marathon County dairy farm, has become the first farm in North America to achieve certification through the Alliance for Water Stewardship—the gold standard for international water stewardship.

On the topic of people power and aquatic invasive species, this year’s statewide Snapshot Day event to detect invasive species in our rivers and waterways attracted over 180 volunteers at more than 100 sites across Wisconsin. Check out Page 3 to learn about a very unique and important discovery made by this year’s volunteers.

In the coming year, we will continue to take on the ambitious task of setting priorities we demand decision makers embrace to keep our communities and waters safe. We are currently working toward the creation of what we’re calling the Wisconsin Water Agenda. This is an effort to chart a path to clean water that respects our heritage, protects the health of communities and ecosystems, and strengthens the state’s economy. Yes, this is a huge task; no organization that we’re aware of has tried to create a comprehensive “roadmap” to water stewardship. Please watch for more on the Wisconsin Water Agenda in the year ahead. It is key to mobilizing local leaders to push our state forward and YOU will be instrumental in this opportunity to make big changes for water in Wisconsin.