Water Hero: Criste Sullivan-Greening

“I am a grassroots leader protecting local waterways from a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).”
Central Sands
Wisconsin Rapids, WI

How do you work to protect Wisconsin’s waters?
Over the past six years, I have been a local grassroots leader within our community protecting our local waterways from potential contamination from a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO). I have focused on informing and educating local residents on both local and statewide water issues. In 2015, I was elected to the board of the statewide coalition, Sustain Rural WI Network (SRWN) which promotes sustainable agriculture and water protection initiatives. In 2017, two fellow water warriors and I founded the Citizens Water Coalition of Wisconsin (CWC) and organized the first ever Citizens’ Water Lobby Day at the state Capitol in Madison.

What are your biggest concerns right now?
The area requiring the largest amount of my attention currently is the extensive water contamination being found in residential water wells as a result of groundwater contamination associated with CAFOs. In addition to the contaminated residential wells, the impact from CAFOs is affecting our local waterway and creating one of the largest blue-green algae outbreaks in the state year after year. I work extensively with local residents and governmental bodies to assist in any capacity needed to protect everyone’s right to clean, drinkable water.

What keeps you strong and inspired in the face of challenges?
I grew up in a rural community and spent my days on the banks of the local creek which was just a short walk through our back woods. I moved to my current home, which hosts a stream in the backyard, to give my children the same experiences I had as a kid. I look at what is happening statewide with the degradation of our local and statewide waters, the destruction of our Department of Natural Resources, and what seems to be a complete disregard for our natural resources by our elected officials, I fear that my kids (and eventual grandchildren) will not be able to enjoy the same experiences as I did growing up.

I do what I do so I can be sure my family has the same opportunity to experience these beautiful resources. I do it for my children and for the generations of family yet to come.

What’s your favorite “water spot” in Wisconsin?
My favorite water spot is on the Wisconsin River, an area known as the Petenwell Flowage. I have spent thousands of hours over the years playing on the banks, skiing and boating with my brothers, and camping in this area. I grew up on the waters of the Petenwell Flowage and I now take my own children to this same area.

More information:
Citizens Water Coalition of Wisconsin

Learn about other Water Heroes in Wisconsin:
River Alliance Water Heroes – 2018