Dysfunction Around the Estabrook Dam Continues at Milwaukee County as Finance Committee Votes to Switch County Policy on Dam. Again.
This morning, Theo Lipscomb introduced an amendment to a 2015 capital improvement bonding resolution in front of the Finance Committee that would flip the policy of the County from removal to repair of the Estabrook Dam. This amendment was passed by the Finance Committee, 5-2 and will need to go to the full County Board of Supervisors next week at their regular meeting on Thursday, February 5 at 9:30 a.m. to become final. This is indicative of the nonsense and dysfunction around this issue perpetuated by a minority of Supervisors.
We are pleased that the City of Milwaukee is minimizing salt use this year both for the sake of the environment and to save money! You may have noticed that salting has been reduced on residential streets, and that salt is being mixed with sand on main streets to reduce salt usage, which is estimated at 1,200 tons per snow event. According to this Smithsonian article, more than 22 million tons of salt are scattered on the roads of the U.S. annually—about 137 pounds of salt for every American. Past reports have shown that Milwaukee County uses 8 times more salt on average than the rest of the State.
Asian carp continue to knock on the door of the Great Lakes, based on eDNA sampling results released last week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The sampling data, collected in October, show the presence of bighead or silver carpDNA throughout the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS). Most alarming is detection of carp DNA very near the lock in downtown Chicago – less than one city block from Lake Michigan.
Earlier this year, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers proposed draft rules that clarify when geographically isolated wetlands and headwater streams are protected under the federal Clean Water Act. The current uncertainty over which waters are protected (due to several controversial Supreme Court decisions) have left nearly 1 million acres of Wisconsin's wetlands and thousands of miles of headwater streams more vulnerable to development and destruction.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2014 River Regale. It was a delightful evening filled with not just familiar faces, but new ones as well. Guests viewed artwork from local artists in our Arts and Rivers Contest and learned about the history of Milwaukee Rivers in a historic panel exhibit entitled “Milwaukee Rivers: Then & Now.” Speaker Robert F. Kennedy Jr., delivered an address regarding “Our Environmental Destiny” which left attendees inspired and ready to join us working for fishable, swimmable rivers. You can watch a short interview Mr. Kennedy had with WISN 12 here. Thank you to all who joined us on that special night! See photos of the event here.
The County Supervisors pushed back the vote on the Dam from September to October, and its possible it could be pushed back later due to political maneuvering and other priorities (including the 2015 budget). Right now there is a vote at the Parks Committee scheduled for this Tuesday October 28th at 9 AM (with possible Board vote on November 6th, unless delayed again). Please attend if you can!
In order to continue to build support for dam removal, we STILL need you to contact your County Supervisors and the County Executive and tell them that Estabrook Dam should be removed and that they should stop delaying a vote on the preferred alternative for the Dam (contact info here).
Milwaukee Riverkeeper is increasingly concerned by the increase in oil train traffic that is passing over and along our waterways every day. Nationally, oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000% in the last five years, and oil trains are also much longer, which concentrates the risk of an accident, especially in urban areas. In our Basin, both Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific operate major rail routes (with some smaller spurs).
Dangerous and combustible crude oil is being transported through urban areas and along and across all of our local rivers. Railroads cross over rivers in the Milwaukee River Basin 36 times to be exact. This crude oil is very combustible and often sinks in water, making cleanup efforts difficult. In a letter, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and 23 other Waterkeeper Organizations, urged the US DOT to implement vital, immediate changes to the crude-by-rail industry through its emergency order authority. We also called on the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to issue more protective regulations than those that are currently proposed. Read our letter attached below.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper is proud to announce its 2014 Arts and Rivers Contest. To celebrate our rivers, we are seeking visual works that convey the beauty and importance of our waterways in an artistically meaningful way. Content of the work must connect in some way to the Kinnickinnic, Menomonee, and/or Milwaukee rivers.
We encourage both amateur and professional artists to submit works of any visual medium: photography, painting, mixed medium, etc.