James Rowen
Op Ed

Under Evers, DNR Restores Science

New groundwater standards and science-based approaches to chemical pollution.

By - Jun 28th, 2019 12:38 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Good to see the Evers administration coordinating major agencies to begin attacking chemical pollution. As the news release notes the “DHS Has Sent New Groundwater Recommendations to DNR:

Working together to make sure the water you drink is safe, the Department of Health Services (DHS), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) have reviewed key compounds that can be in Wisconsin’s groundwater and the effects they could have on health. State health officials today provided groundwater quality standards recommendations … for 27 substances to DNR as part of the state’s process to protect public health

Two per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – human-made chemicals used in many products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain resistant sprays, and firefighting foam – were among the contaminants reviewed.

Three agencies joined together to announce new groundwater quality standards for 27 substances to protect public health. Photo from the DNR.

Three agencies joined together to announce new groundwater quality standards for 27 substances to protect public health. Photo from the DNR.

Here is one media report on the matter by Wisconsin Public Radio:

Deputy DNR Secretary Elizabeth Kluesner said the agency will move as quickly as possible to set new groundwater standards based on the recommendations.

“I also want to point out that today begins a new chapter for returning Wisconsin to being a leader in the field of environmental protection,” Kluesner said. “The DNR has not revised our groundwater standards for 10 years and with these science-based recommendations in hand we will immediately begin rule writing.

This is the very approach Scott Walker intentionally avoided by putting special interests first, ignoring science, degrading public employment and disrespecting the environment and his public trust obligations to protect it. Some of that history is in this series.

Inter-agency coordination should be the template for further Wisconsin clean air and water initiatives to address serious environmental policy failures, including water-sucking and polluting large farms, wetland losses, rampant sprawl, the Back 40 sulfide ore mine, contamination from sand mines, the Kohler golf course planned next to and within Kohler Andrae State Park, and Foxconn – – all of which need honest, comprehensive, science-based and people-first attention.

Not to mention the multiple issues enveloped in Wisconsin’s multiple Great Lakes diversion schemes – – with the latest for Foxconn being particularly appalling.

The Governor can mesh the work of the DNR, WisDOT, public health, DATCP and the AG’s office to make science and the public interest core drivers to ensure both progress and preservation — necessities that were ignored or sold off for nearly a decade.

And the public will have to carefully track the new, multi-agency groundwater initiative and be ready to confront any GOP attempt to foil what people in the state want, voted for and deserve.

James Rowen, a former journalist and mayoral staffer in Milwaukee and Madison, writes a regular blog, The Political Environment.

Categories: Environment, Op-Ed, Politics

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us