The United States Senate overwhelmingly voted to support the 2014 Farm Bill in a 68-32 vote. This has been a YEARS long process, and President Obama is expected to sign it soon. This comprehensive, five-year Farm Bill will generate more than one billion dollars for saving working farm and ranch land, strengthening local communities, and improving our nation’s agricultural lands, its wildlife, and its water resources.
The U.S. Congress released its 2014 spending bill last night. The bill restores funding to two essential Great Lakes programs. It provides $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; the program received $285 million in 2013. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is set to receive $1.44 billion for fiscal year 2014; the program received $1.37 billion in 2013.
On Monday, January 13, citizens expressed concern about the long-term health of the Great Lakes at a public hearing. The hearing was organized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take public comment and to answer questions on the government's plan to prevent invasive fish such as bighead and silver carp from entering the lake.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified physically separating the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds as the most effective way to prevent aquatic invasive species like Asian carp from moving between the two iconic waters.
Conservation groups, including Milwaukee Riverkeeper, responded to a congressionally mandated study released January 6th that outlines eight ways to prevent the transfer of invasive organisms between the two water bodies via Chicago-area canals built more than 100 years ago to connect the two systems. Of all the options studied, the groups agreed that only one – physical separation –is effective at stopping the transfer of the various invasive fish, parasites, grasses, algae and other organisms.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper released its third annual Milwaukee River Report Card highlighting water monitoring results from our 2012 water monitoring season. The Milwaukee River Basin overall earned a C-, which was a slight improvement from a D+ in 2011. The report card shows while we have come a long way in improving certain aspects of water quality, that we still have a long way to go before we have clean, fishable and swimmable streams throughout the Milwaukee River Basin.
The report analyzes data from Riverkeeper’s 88 dedicated citizen stream monitoring volunteers testing water at 100 sites, as well as data from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR).
The City of Waukesha’s revised plan to divert an average of 10.1 million gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan falls short of the protective standards set by the Great Lakes Compact. A coalition of Wisconsin conservation and environmental groups concerned with effective implementation of the law has formally asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to deny the application as written.
Update: On December 13th 89 US Representatives asking EPA to put forth regulations already to deal with confusion/loopholes (generated by several lawsuits) regarding what waters in the US are protected under the Clean Water Act. Read the letter attached below.
Update: As of Friday, December 6, 221 groups have signed the letter and it was resubmitted to the EPA docket.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper and 180 groups signed a letter to the EPA applauding their collection of scientific evidence to evaluate how wetlands and headwater streams have physical, chemical, or biological linkages to downstream waters and therefore impact the integrity of our rivers, lakes, and bays. The letter urges the EPA to use this science report "Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters” as it develops a rulemaking to clarify the scope of the Clean Water Act’s coverage.
Riverkeeper, Cheryl Nenn was quoted by the Journal Sentinel about the benefits of separating steam and electricity generation when the Valley Power Plant is renovated.
Last Thursday, November 14th the Public Service Commission held a public hearing on the Valley Power Plant conversion from coal to natural gas. The Journal Sentinel wrote an overview of the differing views surrounding the conversion.