Saturday, September 1, 2018

Groups, activists, local officials can assert statewide water, wetlands leadership

With more rain storms and flooding in the weekend forecast, it's time for Wisconsinites to throw themselves a lifeline.

Let's face it; we have an ineffective, disinterested Wisconsin state government that is led by a governor who busies himself with fund-raising, Presidential day-dreaming, big-shot plane rides and little boy spectator sports and snacking.

While making sure that serious, informed policy-making is hamstrung or deep-sixed by self-defeating, self-inflicted, block-headed cuts to wetland protection, climate change expertise and comprehensive planning for and spending on state-of-the-art infrastructure.

So others have to step into the costly and dangerous vacuum which Walker has created, and assume the leadership he's forfeited while also throwing Walker, his team and their enablers out of office..


Local governments (when they can catch their breath). grassroots organizations and other groups need to get coordinated, grab flood control, stormwater mitigation and inter-connected scientific issues to take over the planning and the narratives which a disinterested Walker and his donor-compliant and equally-compromised legislative allies have abandoned.

There are well-positioned, credible, dedicated NGOs in Wisconsin, including GreenFire, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, River Alliance of Wisconsin, and Milwaukee Riverkeeper, to name but a few. 

The Bad River and Menominee tribes know the land, the water and the way to fight polluting, bulldozing mining companies whose motives and actions are all about predation and extraction, not protection or preservation.

There are numerous grassroots groups which are in the thick of water and wetland issues right now - - Friends of the Black River Forest, A Better Mt. Pleasant, Kewaunee Cares, Friends of the Central Sands, League of Conservation Voters, Wisconsin Wetlands Association, Citizens Organized To Protect Lake Superior Against CAFOs, land trusts, nature preserves and more.

They have websites, Facebook pages.  and other resources. 

And the state is full of seasoned and energetic educators, attorneys, architects, engineers, farmers and retirees who will demand for their children and grand-children a state that can better guarantee, or at least establish a priority on dry basements, secure bridges, respectable roads, clean air, uncontaminated rivers and safe drinking water.

This year's storms have killed people. 

The damage is in the scores of millions of dollars, and growing. 

Accepted science says the climate is changing, the planet is warming, and storms are intensifying, so we should reject a perverse, donor-controlled political science which supports practitioners who want extended terms in office where they intend to maintain a sorry and soggy status quo.

And just as I didn't offer  a complete list of groups and entities who can fill the void, let me mention just one worthy, functioning model of flood control and wetland preservation.

Take a look at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage Commission's "GreenSeams" program, and remember, the MMSD services ten counties and works off watershed planning and climate change awareness. I wrote about it last year - - imagine something like this is in your community, up the hill, at the edge of town, and so on:
I'm sure it hasn't hurt the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District's multi-county 1,000,000+ residents during the recent heavy rains that its wetlands-and-shoreline natural flood control program known as Greenseams now totals more than 3,400 water-absorbing acres and 100,000 trees planted.
Water flows from a natural spring on Greenseams® Hoerig property
And while the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is busy scrubbing climate change science from its official website, and other state government agencies drag their feet while Wisconsin gets wetter and warmer, the MMSD acknowledges the realities of climate change and its obligations to adapt, expand Greenseams and boost other elements of green infrastructure to serve the people and save us money, as the agency notes in its current plan goals:
The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s 2035 Vision and Strategic Objectives
Integrated Watershed Management Goals:
a. Support a watershed-based permitting program and water quality trading program that improves environmental performance in a cost effective manner.
b. Work with MMSD’s partners to strive toward zero basement backups.
c. Work with MMSD’s partners to achieve, to the extent feasible, zero sanitary sewer overflows and zero combined sewer overflows.
d. Work with MMSD’s partners to achieve zero homes in the 1% probability floodplain.
e. Acquire an additional 10,000 acres of river buffers through GreenseamsSM and other regional programs.
f. Use green infrastructure to capture the first 0.5 inch of rainfall.
g. Harvest the first 0.25 gallons per square foot of area of rainfall.
Integrated Watershed Management Initiatives:
a. MMSD will help municipalities within the District reduce the volume of flows they deliver to MMSD’s sewer system cost effectively. 
b. Continue to plan, design, construct, and operate MMSD’s grey infrastructure to exceed regulatory and economic requirements.
c. GreenseamsSM
1) Expand the boundaries of the GreenseamsSM program to match regional watershed boundaries. 
2) Designate a percentage of annual GreenseamsSM funding toward improving the rainwater storage capacity of the properties.
d. Maximize MMSD’s ability to deliver public educational programming to increase the general public’s support and understanding of its operations.
e. Integrate green infrastructure with MMSD’s grey infrastructure.
Climate Mitigation & Adaptation Initiatives:
a. Create and support a robust southeast Wisconsin regional climate change modeling program that will help forecast climate change impacts.
b. Create an internal risk analysis process that characterizes near-, mid- and long-term actions necessary to protect MMSD’s existing investments in facilities and create new facilities, programs, and operational improvements that adapt to the wet weather impacts of climate change.
c. Expand green infrastructure to help to mitigate climate change and make the region more resilient in the face of intense storms.

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