THE FLOW, Winter 2014
This is the introductory article for the Winter 2014 River Alliance Newsletter. Download a pdf of the full newsletter.
We introduce the Blue Water Business Consortium
There was a beer commercial when I was growing up, for Hamm’s Beer. Anyone who listened to baseball games in the Midwest in the 1960s will remember it: “From the land of sky-blue waters, comes the water best for brewing. Hamm’s the beer refreshing, Hamm’s…’ (In these times, where everything is everywhere and always accessible, this commercial lives on: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o83xxWCel8g)
So here was a business, 50 years ago, making a connection between its success and the quality of its most essential ingredient. But it isn’t just businesses using water as an ingredient in their products that depend on water and its quality and availability. Any business located on or near water, in order to succeed, depends on water’s esthetic appeal, accessibility and reliability.
PACRS HQ is a bar on the river
When the River Alliance launched its Wisconsin River Initiative six years ago, we connected with scores of people whose big concern about the river was the gag-inducing algae blooms that choked the river in summer. The energy around that concern eventually congealed into an organization we helped launch, the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards, or PACRS. The group’s unofficial headquarters is the Lure Bar and Grill and Barnum Bay Marina, on the eastern shore of Petenwell Flowage. Owner Tom Koren can easily quantify the lost business he has suffered because of algae blooms caused by phosphorus delivered to the river from polluted farm runoff.
In 2010, Tom joined fellow restauranteur Rick Carlson, owner of Carlson’s Rustic Ridge Supper Club, on the Castle Rock Flowage, at the Capitol to urge lawmakers’ support for new rules controlling phosphorus pollution. Tom has hosted hundreds of citizen water advocates and several delegations of legislators and DNR officials at his place of business, making an emphatic case that good water is good for business.
Water and business is old business in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin, this is not revolutionary thinking. The Dells of the Wisconsin River, the gilded resorts of Lake Geneva and Green Lake, and the mineral springs of Waukesha County drew people from all over the world since before the state was founded. Ever since, local businesses have capitalized on the glaciers’ gift to this land. Since our early days, River Alliance has had solid relationships with scores of businesses who understand the business side of clean and plentiful water. They have donated time and goods to us.
Only recently, though, especially due to our friendship with Tom Koren and Rick Carlson, have we seen the possibility of creating a “small business voice for clean and plentiful water.” In other words, we saw the value of elevating the commitment and passion these business owners hold for the water they depend on to a higher level – a more prominent and public level as a way of having business owners shape public policy around water. To give voice to the value of good water as good business, in the realms of public policy and public education, we have organized the Blue Water Business Consortium, some of whose founding partners you will meet in this issue.
For better or worse, business has outsized influence on policy making; it always has. In recent years, the stale and unfounded argument that environmental protection kills jobs has been revived. We launched the Blue Water Business Consortium in part to counter this sentiment. But at the heart of this Consortium are great people and smart business owners whose stories you should know and whose passion for the water they love, and depend on, will impress and inspire you.
By Denny Caneff