LWV Upper Mississippi warmly welcomes new Co-Chairs Mary and Steve Ploeser from LWV Dane County in Madison, Wisconsin. Mary is a retired middle school math and science teacher, and Steve retired from the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services where he was a systems analyst. Parents of three grown children, Mary and Steve live in the same house they bought when first married thirty-five years ago.
Mary and Steve are members of LWV Dane County. They joined LWV to help potential voters, with and without birth certificates, get the proper photo ID required by the state. Steve also served on the LWV Dane county board as membership chair and later as business systems analyst. Mary joined to help register voters and was later asked to be the LWVDC representative to the Upper Mississippi River Region ILO..
Now as co-leaders of LWV UMRR, their goals are to continue holding board meetings around the four states and learn the concerns of all the member Leagues ,and to continue the ILO’s efforts to keep the water in the Upper Mississippi watershed as clean as is possible.
When not busy with the ILO Steve also works with the AARP Smart Driving Classes and Mary helps with voter registration. We both work as cashiers at Habitat for Humanity’s Restore and enjoy traveling to new and exciting venues.
What do you do the first day you're in office when you take over as head of the LWV Upper Mississippi? You visit the Mississippi Headwaters! Steve and Mary Ploeser made the pilgrimage to the river's source at Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota on June 2. What a good way to get your feet wet in the Mississippi!
In February of 2019, Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) is pleased to announce the 16 members of the bipartisan Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality. There are 12 Republican representative and senators and 4 Democrats. Representative Todd Novak-R-Dodgeville is the Chair and Representative Katrina Shankland-D-Stevens Point-Co-Chair.
The development of the special legislative committee commenced after Reps. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) made a request to the speaker in reaction to a preliminary report showing widespread contamination in private wells in southwestern Wisconsin. Because of the great importance of the issue being studied, this task force will also include members of the state Senate.
“Wisconsinites deserve to have safe, clean and healthy water,” said Speaker Vos. “We’re beginning this essential work by gathering input from across Wisconsin. I’m pleased these legislators have agreed to take part in this statewide, collaborative effort.”
The task force has been asked to make recommendations on assessing and improving the quality of surface water and groundwater. Legislators will hold public hearings around Wisconsin to gather information on the specific concerns in the various regions of the state. The speaker’s office has already been contacted by dozens of groups including Wisconsin Wetlands Association, the UW Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and the Wisconsin Conservation Voters. “The goal is to take input from everyone; stakeholder groups, individuals and local officials,” said Speaker Vos. “Every important solution starts with robust conversation.
The Task Force will be traveling to 11 Wisconsin cities to get input. Next week Mauston, Wisconsin will have their hearing on Wednesday, June 12, 2019 and La Crosse, Wisconsin will have their hearing on Thursday, June 13th, 2019. For more information, click here.
LWV Action on Climate Change: A Call to Arms, with lots of guidance, from Caryl Terrell (LWV Dane Co, WI) at the LWV UMRR Annual Meeting on June 1
The LWV US Tool Kit for Climate Action is an excellent resource for getting started. Take some time to explore this website - the menu on the right has links to a wide array of information, advice and examples.
The Nature Conservancy's big idea to protect the upper Upper Mississippi - talk by Matt Gladue on June 1
The upper Upper Mississippi is that part of the Mississippi that starts at the Headwaters and flows to the Twin Cities. Water quality in the upper Upper Mississippi River is very good. The river, especially in the furthest north reaches, is protected by extensive forests and wetlands. But threats to this river are growing - threats from land conversion and development. The river is in danger of becoming polluted, like the Minnesota, which would endanger the water supply of millions of Minnesotans as well as damage this invaluable natural resource.
Matt Gladue's talk at the Annual Meeting engaged the audience in understanding the value of the upper Upper Mississippi - in the heart and soul of Minnesotans, as the source of drinking water for millions, and as an invaluable natural resource for wildlife and recreation. The threats to the river are many, but it is within the power of Minnesotans to make a changes that will save the river.
The Nature Conservancy has a big idea for saving the river. They have identified critical conservation lands, about 2% of the land in the watershed, that if protected from development or restored to forest will help to protect the river. Matt talked about this project, and that The Nature Conservancy is working on doing grass-roots organizing to develop public support. They are also seeking organizations to partner with them in this effort. To learn more about TNC's big idea, click here.
The videos below are broken up in part because Matt provided discussion periods during his talk and in part due to technical difficulties that resulted in small gaps.
What does Climate Change mean for the Upper Mississippi? Comments by John Linc Stine, Freshwater Society, at the LWV UMRR Annual Meeting on June 1.
The Minnesota River starts on the western border of Minnesota, and flows first southeast and then northeast to meet up with the Mississippi at Fort Snelling, just below the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport. In the Minnesota, river bank erosion accounts for more than half of the sediment in the river. This sediment moves down the river, changing habitats. Flows in the river have increased as well, nearly doubling in the past twenty years. Tile drainage of farm lands has virtually eliminated storage of the water on the land. This means that when rains come, and when snows melt, water rushes down the river, scouring the banks and causing yet more erosion. The result is a muddy mix of silt and water that visibly pollutes the Mississippi at it's confluence, as shown in the above photo from Minnesota Public Radio. More rain and more forceful storms exacerbate the problem.
The Minnesota is a river in tough shape. The cost of repairing this damage is high, and will require significant change in farming practices to bring it back to health. John wrapped up his talk by talking about the positive impacts that groups like LWV can have by working to prevent, plan and prepare. Read more about the problems on the Minnesota River in this October 2017 report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Many thanks to John for taking time on a beautiful Saturday to be a guest speaker at our Annual Meeting!
The following notice is from the Sustain
La Crosse Commission, and is included in its entirety in this blog post. Groundwater contamination problems in Wisconsin have been documented for years - LWV UMRR explored this topic at our 2017 Annual Meeting in La Crosse. Check out this talk from that meeting, this related story in the La Crosse Tribune and this more recent story on Wisconsin Public Radio. (Photo from the La Crosse Tribune story)
And here's the meeting notice:
La Crosse County Water Challenges and Improvement Opportunities
Thursday, May 16 5:30 – 6:30 PM Basement Auditorium (Room 0430)
La Crosse County Admin. Center 212 6th Street N.
The Sustainable La Crosse Commission will host a public program about issues related to ground and surface water quality in La Crosse County and surrounding areas.
Nitrates in well water and its impact on health
The first topic will include a discussion on groundwater nitrate contamination from animal production units and other sources. This topic has received attention lately because of the results of studies conducted in the Towns of Onalaska and Holland on nitrate levels in local resident’s wells. The panelist for this portion will be Jennifer Rombalski, La Crosse County Health Department La Crosse River watershed
Nutrient credits for shoreland improvements
The second topic will include a discussion on opportunities to use “nutrient credits” derived from shoreline improvements, establishment of buffer zones, etc. to offset more stringent output water phosphorus levels that the La Crosse Sanitary Sewer Utility will be facing in the future. The panelist for this portion will be Karl Green, UW Madison Division of Extension La Crosse County.
The second topic is directly related to a goal that has been established by the Sustainable La Crosse Commission – Water Work Group: To restore water quality of the rivers, streams, lakes and ponds that make up La Crosse River watershed by concentrating efforts to reduce non-point source phosphorus pollution. Advocate for stream bank protection, restoration and permanent easements with the goal of removing the La Crosse River from the “Impaired” water classification, as established by the WI DNR
Thank you for your interest in water sustainability. We hope that you can attend, learn, provide your input and help us to achieve our goal.
About the Sustainable La Crosse Commission In 2009, the City and County of La Crosse passed a join resolution establishing a “joint long-term sustainability committee.” The Commission created a Strategic Plan for Sustainability and works to advise and make recommendations on policy and funding related to sustainability and to educate the public about sustainability issues.
For more information, contact Rick Cornforth Sustainability Commission Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Mississippi River Network asks us to help Expand the Use of Natural Infrastructure on the Mississippi River!
LWV UMRR is a member of the Mississippi River Network. Comprised of more than 65 organizations, this network provides information linking groups active in the basin and offering opportunities for advocacy. This post, sent from the MRN, asks people to sign a petition urging Congress and the Army Corps of Engineers to restore more natural infrastructure to reduce the cost of flood damage mitigation.
2019 has seen record floods on the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio Rivers and many of their tributaries. These high-water events are a vivid reminder of the role that natural systems can play in flood control and river management.
Natural Infrastructure means the system of floodplains and wetlands that are part of a healthy functioning river system – these areas hold water and can help take pressure off the levee system by acting as “safety valves” for floodwaters that can threaten communities and towns.
Natural Infrastructure can help reduce the costs from flood damage and repair (and can also help clean the water by filtering and processing nutrients and sediments.) A growing number of cities and states are embracing Natural Infrastructure because of its fiscal benefits, as well as those for the environment.
The Mississippi River Region urges Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expand the use of Natural Infrastructure in flood control policy and planning in the Mississippi River System by signing this online petition at this link.
Climate Change and its Impacts on the Upper Mississippi River: How LWVs can bring about change through education, advocacy and action
The LWV Upper Mississippi River Region's Annual Meeting will be on June 1, at Schaar's Bluff Gathering Space overlooking the Mississippi, just upstream from Hastings, Minnesota. In the morning, we will hold our business meeting. After lunch, the focus on the afternoon session will be Climate Change and what it means for the Upper Mississippi. Join us to learn what changes are happening in the Upper Miss basin, what's being done to prepare and adapt, and what LWV provides our members to help them move the needle in their communities!
We have an excellent slate of speakers lined up for the discussion. We'll start by talking about the river and what we know about the impacts climate disruption will bring to the Upper Mississippi, and talk about some of the adaptations that cities in the region are undertaking to protect their citizens' lives and livelihoods.
John Linc Stine, Executive Director of the Freshwater Society
Mr. Stine is the former Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and has represented the state on the Great Lakes Commission and the International Joint Commission on the Red River of the North. He will help us integrate what we see and know about climate change in the upper Midwest with what is happening to the Mississippi. What are the water quality challenges the river will face? What are the effects of increased erosion? How are cities up and down the river adapting to these challenges?
Matt Gladue, Program Director, Our Mississippi Our Future, the Nature Conservancy
The Our Mississippi Our Future project’s ambitious goal it to protect and restore thousands of acres of land in the Upper Mississippi watershed in Minnesota to prevent degradation. Their 2019 report, “Mississippi Headwaters: The Business Case for Conservation” lays out the potential costs and benefits of this action. Climate change is a factor here – and the work they are embarking on will help by providing additional carbon storage and wetlands for flood prevention.
Caryl Terrell, LWV Dane County and LWV US Climate Change Task Force
How can LWV’s effectively advocate for change? – the work of LWV US in Climate Change will be showcased here, and participants will leave with tools to lead stronger climate change adapations in their home communities. This discussion will be led by Caryl Terrell of LWV Dane County (WI), a member of the initial LWV US Climate Change Task Force from 2006 to 2008. Read about the LWV US Tool Kit at this link.
“Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur. Climate-related risks will continue to grow without additional action.
Decisions made today determine risk exposure for current and future generations and will either broaden or limit options to reduce the negative consequences of climate change. While Americans are responding in ways that can bolster resilience and improve livelihoods, neither global efforts to mitigate the causes of climate change nor regional efforts to adapt to the impacts currently approach the scales needed to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.”
F O U R T H N A T I O N A L C L I M A T E A S S E S S M E N T
-US Global Change Research Program; November 23, 2018
The LWV Upper Mississippi River Region's Annual Meeting will be on June 1, at Schaar's Bluff Gathering Space overlooking the Mississippi, just upstream from Hastings, Minnesota. The focus on the afternoon session will be Climate Change and what it means for the Upper Mississippi. Join us to learn what changes are happening in the Upper Miss basin, what's being done to prepare and adapt, and what LWV provides our members to help them move the needle in their communities!