Standing Room Only at EPA Water Quality Meeting

Nov 29, 2016 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy

We know people in Wisconsin care about protecting their water; they care enough to drive from all around the state to advocate and be heard. Recently, we were inspired by the individuals who made a trip to Eau Claire on a Tuesday night to share their stories and concerns with EPA staff. A total of 200 people attended (in a room that seated only 170) and more the 60 provided testimony to the EPA Region V Administrator, Robert Kaplan and EPA Water Division Director, Chris Korleski.

We were thrilled to see so many citizens from across the state speak passionately about the urgency to protect Wisconsin’s drinking water, rivers, lakes and wetlands from pollution and overuse.

There were so many stories about impacts to water that we can’t list them all, but here are a few:

Jim Swanson spoke about the “summer of stench” he experienced at his home on Tainter Lake in Dunn County due to smelly and toxic blue-green algae blooms. He asked the EPA to help.

Mary Dougherty of Bayfield and Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, raised concerns about DNR “abdicating its duty” and putting “people’s health at risk.” She and many others are concerned about the pollution from large-scale animal farms. She asked the EPA to “throw us a life line.”

Nancy Utesch described the current conditions in Kewaunee County, including manure tainted drinking water flowing from homeowners’ faucets. She asked the EPA for protection now.

Rachel, a Dunn County dairy farmer, told the story of a neighboring CAFO that has had pollution violations in the past that is now asking to expand. She said she, “is proud of her work and believes farmers have made great strides and are innovative, but unfortunately not all of them are. There is no incentive than personal goodwill.” She asked the EPA to help avoid a major catastrophe.

River Alliance executive director Raj Shukla summed up the sentiment in the room with River Alliance’s testimony:

  • “We know the problems.
  • We have some idea of the solutions.
  • We have every interest in working together to manage water resources wisely.
  • What we do not yet know is how committed the Environmental Protection Agency is to assist us as we work to protect this planet’s most essential resource in Wisconsin—a state that borders 20% of the world’s surface fresh water.
  • We are hopeful the new administration will recognize the environmental and economic value of clean fresh water and we are eager to solve our problems together alongside community groups, industry representatives and local decision makers.”

We are also hopeful that everyone around the state who cares about their water will continue to let elected officials and agency staff know about the impacts to their water, and demand solutions. River Alliance of Wisconsin will be right there with you.

See media coverage of this event:


Thank you to the Sierra Club–John Muir Chapter for organizing this event and to our fellow sponsors: Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin Lakes Association, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and Clean Wisconsin