Amherst River Rat Chat and Central Waters Brewing visit
On June 30 we gathered in Amherst for a River Rat Chat at Central Waters Brewing. Around 30 of us got a chance to see familiar faces and welcome new members. The River Rat Chat was a listening session for all of us to hear about local water protection concerns and a chance to update our friends on the work of River Alliance of Wisconsin, including the Wisconsin Water Agenda and our agricultural agenda.
When we asked the Central Sands residents about their top water protection challenges, the strongest concerns were about the impact of large-scale agriculture on local water quality. Those who live in rural areas want to get along with farmers in their communities, but they also want agriculture to be accountable for nutrient and pesticide pollution through better monitoring of local groundwater.
They also had a strong desire to find common ground with their neighbors and try to discuss water issues in a way that doesn’t resort to conflict. Central Sands communities are no strangers to heated debates about water resources and agriculture. Listening to residents of Nelsonville and Saratoga speak about how the costs of agriculture are passed onto families who must deal with polluted drinking water wells – especially during a time when resources from the state legislature are dwindling – it is clear that state and local leaders aren’t doing enough to curb the sources of pollution.
We know the right to clean water is something Central Sands voters want. In the spring of 2021, voters in Marquette County (73%), Portage County (77%) and Wood County (76%) voted yes to an advisory referendum that read, “Should the State of Wisconsin establish a right to clean water to protect human health, the environment, and the diverse cultural and natural heritage of Wisconsin?” This fall, more counties will let voters express their nonpartisan support for the right to clean water as well. Learn more about the Clean Water Now referendum campaign at VoteForCleanWater.com.
River Alliance of Wisconsin staff and board members were very grateful for this time to gather at Central Waters Brewing to hear local residents’ clean water concerns. Central Waters Brewing is also a member of River Alliance of Wisconsin’s Clear Water Business Consortium. Consortium members support River Alliance’s mission through their annual sponsorships and participation in advocacy by being a business voice for clean water protections.
If you live in the Milwaukee area, we invite you to our next River Rat Chat at City Lights Brewery on July 20. We will provide the appetizers and a cash bar offers beer, sparkling tea and soda. The event is free, but please register in advance. Event updates will be sent to registrants via email.