Workshop led by the University of Minnesota in partnership with The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation and the League of Women Voters (LWV) - Jo Daviess County, LWV- Upper Mississippi River Region Inter League Organization, LWV- Lake Michigan Region Inter League Organization. With grant funds from 1 Mississippi; an organization supported by The McKnight and Walton Family Foundations.
$20 per person.
Includes morning and afternoon coffee, juice and refreshments, and lunch.
Who should attend?
League of Women Voter members and Rotary Club members from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota, staff from conservation land trust organizations, Extension and Sea Grant educators, teachers and informal science educators, and community members from the surrounding area that want to lead water and land conservation education efforts.
About the Watershed Game
The Watershed Game is an interactive tool that helps individuals understand the connection between land use and water quality. Participants learn how a variety of land uses impact water and natural resources, increase their knowledge of best management practices (BMPs), and learn how their choices can prevent adverse impacts. Participants apply plans, practices, and policies that help them achieve a water quality goal for a stream, lake, or river.
The Watershed Game is available in four versions. The Stream, Lake, and River Versions for Local Leaders are used with elected and appointed officials, community leaders, business leaders, and citizens and a Classroom Version for use with middle to high school youth audiences. The Watershed Game is a curriculum and resource developed and published by the University of Minnesota Sea Grant Program and University of Minnesota Extension.
This training will feature:
Objectives of the Train the Trainer Workshop:
Participants can register online at http://z.umn.edu/rockford.
Click here for a workshop flyer
For more information, please contact:
John Bilotta | 612-624-7708 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Cox | 815-238-1725 | email@example.com
Mark Borchardt is the DIrector of the Laboratory for Infectious Disease and the Environment, USGS. He has been studying the microbes that contaminate Wisconsin's groundwater, and the impact they have on the health of the people of Wisconsin. He told us that it is important to understand that poop is very political. The two big sources of fecal contamination in water are cows and people, and fecal organisms are found in water throughout Wisconsin. Is this a health risk or a non-issue?
The second marks below can be used to navigate to specific elements of Mark's talk in this summary:
7:30 The Laboratory conducted a study to determine how many people are getting sick from drinking non-chlorinated municipal water. This was the WAHTER study, back in 2007-8. ( Click here for more information. ). They correlated the presence of pathogens in water to the incidence of acute gastrointestinal disease. The incidence of disease far surpasses the ‘allowable’ level of disease due to water borne illness that has been set by US EPA. People who drink water from non-disinfected public water supplies or private wells are much more susceptible to water-borne disease than people whose water is disinfected.
21:00 Based on this study, Wisconsin passed a law requiring all water supplies be disinfected. However, after political change in state government, a law was passed that prohibits DNR from requiring disinfection.
25:00 The septic system at a restaurant in Door County was causing illness. It was a new system; how could this be happening? The answer was that there was a broken seal in the tank that was causing part of the problem, but the other part of the problem was that the bedrock in the area is fractured dolomite which quickly spreads contamination over great distances. Mark's talk tracks the movement of contaminants through the groundwater to neighboring residential wells.
29:40 Kewaunee County still has “brown water events” in the spring and fall that are clearly linked with intestinal disease. Genetic testing has traced the fecal organisms back to both humans and cattle, and this area has a very large number of Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The cattle-source organisms probably spike when manure is being applied, but the human-source organisms are present year round due to the widespread use of septic systems in the area. ( Click here for more information. In this article, one participant asked whether dispensing less liquid manure would reduce well contamination. “You don’t need a scientist for that one,” Borchardt answered. “If you remove the fecal source, you remove the contamination.” )
Kim Wright is the Executive Director of Midwest Environmental Advocates, based in Madison, Wisconsin. She began her talk by telling us that Wisconsin has been a laboratory for understanding the ‘smaller government’ model and what it means for citizens. When government does not do its job protecting its citizens, organizations like Midwest Environmental Advocates step up to help people. The quote below is a statement of rights - the waters of Wisconsin belong to the people of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resoures is to act as trustee protecting these waters for the people.
If we don’t all have fair rules to get into the game, we cannot achieve fair outcomes. The people of Wisconsin have a right to clean water. See WisconinWatch’s Failure at the Faucet: (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism)
Wisconsin was a leader in implementing regulations when Clean Water Act was passed. Now a legislative audit found that this program is ignoring it’s own rules. When the state does not enforce, it passes on costs to local governments to protect its citizens. Click here for link to audit. Use the second markers below to find specific elements of Kim's talk. (Click here to see Kim's talk on YouTube.)
5:45 Green Bay (the water body) has a deadzone, an area where there is no oxygen, due to the high levels of nutrients that are being discharged here. People sought to place controls on pollutors in the watershed and worked to challenge paper mill permit. A lawsuit was brought, it made its way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Supreme Court ruled that no change was needed. So Midwest Environmental Advocates brought this to US EPA’s attention and asked that the states authority to administer Clean Water Act be rescinded. DNR fought this, but MEA kept up the battle, going back to US EPA with a petition on behalf of 16 citizens who are impacted by contaminated groundwater. ( Click here to read more about this.)
16:00 In 2003, Wisconsin legislature removed the ability of local governments to restrict Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs, a.k.a. feedlots). This ties back to donations made to politicians. There was a great increase in the number of CAFOs and a decrease in the number of DNR staff to enforce. This was seen in Kewaunee County in northeastern Wisconsin, near Door County where the great number of CAFOs has greatly impacted groundwater. The manure management plans for these farms seemed to be built on imagined possible corn yields, and children have been sickened from the bad water. ( Click here. )
27:00 Wisconsin passed law that basically exempted iron mining from environmental regulation. This threatened the wild rice beds of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe ( Click here. )
30:00 Menomonie – the problem with contaminated lakes full of algae is drastically affecting life in this area. The stench of the algae is unbearable in the summer. ( Click here. )
Kim is hopeful because she sees the people of Wisconsin standing up and organizing. Examples are the Citizen’s Water Lobby Day (link to blog story) which is now organized as Citizen Water Council of Wisconsin, Sustain Rural Wisconsin and the Green Fire group of retired DNR and University of Wisconsin scientists. (Click here for more information on Wisconsin Green Fire; click here for information on Sustain Rural Wisconsin.)
Fishers and Farmers is one of the 19 US Fish and Wildlife Service projects; it works with landowners, NGOs and governments to link landowners, farmers and water users to effectively protect and improve water quality. Use the second markers below to find specific elements of Heidi's talk
8:00 Fishers and Farmers' steering committee goes out and meets with farmers in the project; they organized river boat trips to see the river together. They approach conservation conversations from an agronomic viewpoint.
13:02 – Soil Health is the key. We must get to the root of the problem; building fish habitat is good but if you don’t fix the thing that’s causing fish habitat to be lost the fixes you installed will just wash away. Soil health is essential to keeping soil on the land and clean water in our rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater. Healthy soil increases water-retention capacity.
16:29 – about 15 years ago, LWV Ashland worked with USFW to improve stream water quality in the Bad River Watershed. This was a very successful project and Heidi would love to see this replicated. She also had current examples, including the work that LWV Jo Davies is doing in the Apple Plum watershed. http://watershed.fishersandfarmers.org/apple-plum-watershed/ They have different types of projects in different areas, like oxbow restoration in Iowa and ravine stabilization in Minnesota. Research is being conducted into the efficacy of incorporating strips of prairie land into rowcrops.
27:55 Lessons learned – early adopters suffer from fatigue from implementing change when neighbors don’t. They feel isolated. Peers are among the most powerful influencers of social change. So F&F is working to build trust and build connections in a watershed. They ask conservation staff to arrive as human beings, not as regulators or experts. Landowners and farmers are asked to help solve problems, and their solutions are applied. The goal is to co-create and implement local solutions, to communicate shared vision and hear success. It is also important to support local project managers. The right hand photo below shows the highest leverage points for effecting positive change in a watershed, developed in a Fishers and Farmers workshop.
Howard Learner, Executive Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Institute, was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting. He told us that the Great Lakes states were critical to the election of Donald Trump, and in his first 100 days he has declared war on clean, safe water. 21% of the world’s fresh water supply and drinking water for more than 42 million people are found in the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Water quality here is essential. (In this video, Howard Learner is introduced by Dan Breeden from WXOW TV in La Crosse.)
We need to communicate that safe, clean water is not a partisan issue; we need to communicate this to members of Congress, the White House, our state legislatures. It is a basic human right to breath clean air and drink clean water.
Here's a summary of Howard's remarks, check the video at the second marks indicated to watch it.
6:00 What do we need to do to make a difference? First, we need to be here to play to win. We are not fighting the good fight, we are playing to win.
8:30 Facts: To better understand what Trump voters think about water, the Environmental Law and Policy Center hired Ann Selzer from the Des Moines poll to conduct research in key areas of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and Indiana. Focus groups were asked about their priorities in general and about the environment in particular.
12:50 What did we learn from the focus groups? Howard outlined the threats to our clean water regulatory framework from the Trump administration. Why are they doing this? He’s sure they are doing survey work too that shows people don’t’ support these changes. This is an area where we need to fight back and win.
15:30 Pushback on these issues is effective, and needs to be relentless and consistent. Here’s how we can win:
24:50 Trump’s voters don’t agree with the war on water quality that the Trump administration has declared. We will need to litigate cases to fight this war, we need to use new technology to activate people to take action on problems in their neighborhoods and we need to work with state and local allies to push back against the roll back of regulations and the push to tie the hands of environmental regulators.
26:00 What are we going to do about climate change? About 2/3 of Americans believe that climate change is real and are concerned about what it means for them. We need to fight for cleaner energy and cleaner transportation. The Midwest states have already done a lot to reduce air pollution – all states in the ELPC area are way ahead in implementing the Clean Power Plan; both Minnesota and Iowa are already fully in compliance and the rest are making excellent progress more rapidly than required.
30:00 – We are not here to be ‘at the table’, we are not hear to ‘fight the good fight’. We are here to win!
What do you think about Howard's comments? Do you have questions for Howard? Make a comment here!
Mayor Kabat said that clean water is essential for the top three economies in the region:
The Mississippi River is La Crosses’ greatest quality of life asset, and is a climate impact zone with both acute and chronic impacts from heavier rainfalls, stronger storms and warmer overnight temperatures. Because the river is so important to the river cities, and it’s at risk from the impacts of climate change, this group sent representatives, including Mayor Kabat, to the Paris Climate talks last winter.
Some other highlights of the video:
8:15 MRCTI members have worked with the Mississippi River bi-cameral caucus – now 37 members of Congress. MRCTI has developed a memo of common purpose with COE, and pushed to relink conservation compliance with crop insurance subsidies. Asking current administration for $100 m for pre-disaster mitigation grants, secured an agreement to allow container shipping on the Miss River.
9:20 Mississippi River sustainability fund – aim to make infrastructure more resilient and adaptive. Will provide seed money to install more green infrastructure. They are also seeking funding for source water protection and transit.
10:30 To help the cause of resilience, advocacy is needed for Safe Drinking Water and Clean Water SRF State Revolving Loan Funds, Section 106 Water Pollution Control grants and EQIP Environmental Quality Incentives Program (USDA). Mayors go to Washington every March to advocate for these. Cities are laboratories for showing what can be done, what works and doesn’t work. Cities on the river are on the front line, make the greatest impact and feel the greatest effects.
13:00 La Crosse has three universities and many non-profits. One major asset to the city is the USGS Upper Midwest Service Center in Onalaska. This group has taken on many projects to restore the natural ecology of the river. Lots of restoration projects have been completed in the lower parts of Pool 8, in concert with groups like Nature Conservancy to see what can also be applied in the Lower Mississippi.
13:35 Upper Miss River Restoration Program, authorized by Congress in 1986. Habitat restoration and long-term monitoring. Mayors group has signed a memo of common purpose supporting nutrient monitoring up and down the Mississippi.
15:45 In March, MRCTI also urged Congress to allocate funding to restore the Land and Water Conservation fund, and to fund the nutrient monitoring program and requested $4.1 billion for the navigation and ecosystem sustainability program. They are not asking for new funding, it will be challenge to maintain current funding. Their idea is to repatriate overseas funds that American companies have overseas in undistributed earnings ($2 trillion); goal is to require ½ of that to be repatriated and 15% of that would be used to buy infrastructure issued to state and local governments.
18:00 MRCTI is also trying to reinvigorate the transportation and water infrastructure innovation acts. And they are also working on global resiliency – sent mayors to the UN meeting in Paris in December 2016, and are working with the eight other major rivers that are focused on providing drinking water and agricultural output: Amazon, Rhine, Danube, Prana, Euphrates, Volga, Ganges, Tigress, Euphrates, Yellow.
|LWV Upper Mississippi River Region||