Madison in Bloom: Blue-Green Algae Hits Home

This was originally posted here. The Bloom Begins It was a hot, sunny day and Steve Carpenter couldn’t believe the view from his second-floor office on the shoreline of Lake Mendota. As far out as he could see from his perch in the Hasler Laboratory for Limnology – west to the UW-Madison Rowing team’s boat house and east all the way to the Edgewater Hotel and James Madison Park – the calm, still water looked just like teal-blue paint. It was a massive bloom of toxic blue-green algae and “it is the worst one I’ve seen in a long time,” says Carpenter, director of the UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology. “It’s been many, many years since I’ve seen one this bad.” In fact, the bloom that hit Madison last Friday, June 16th, was one of the largest blooms to mar Mendota’s shoreline since the summers of 1993 and 1994, he says. Like this summer, those summers were also marked by “classic” conditions for an algae bloom. Lake Mendota sits in a landscape dominated by agriculture. And some elements of this agriculture, especially the manure produced by dairy operations and synthetic fertilizers used to help corn and soybeans grow, is loaded with phosphorus. This wouldn’t be a huge problem if things would just stay where they’re put. But this spring and early summer has been marked by not only higher-than-average rainfall (we’re about 35% above normal precipitation levels) but also by intense storm events of 2 inches or more of rain. All of this rain, especially the “gullywashers,” carry tons of phosphorus-laden soil into nearby creeks and streams, where it eventually ends up in our lakes and...

What They are Saying: Environmental, Conservation, Equity, and Health Groups Respond to the Trump Admin Action on Water Protections

Today President Trump’s EPA announced a draft proposal to repeal the Clean Water Rule. The Clean Water Rule, finalized in 2015, protects the streams and wetlands that feed the drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans. Responses to this irresponsible and dangerous proposal, from environmental, conservation, equity-focused, public health, and community groups, follow. Clean Water Action – Trump Administration Action Will Put Water at Risk to Benefit Polluters Washington, DC – Today Scott Pruitt and President Trump put drinking water sources at risk. The Environmental Protection Agency announced a draft proposal to repeal  Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands that filter pollutants, protect communities from floods, and provide vital habitat for wildlife. Clean Water Action President and CEO Bob Wendelgass released the following statement in response. “The only people who benefit from repealing Clean Water Act protections are the special interests who have tried to weaken and gut protections for clean water for decades. Repealing the Clean Water Rule does nothing but increase confusion about what streams and wetlands are protected and put the drinking water for 1 in 3 of us at risk. ” “The Clean Water Rule is essential to public health. It is vital to communities that rely on healthy wetlands and streams to power small businesses and provide drinking water. We’re not going to protect clean water by ignoring science and commonsense. Americans understand that – yet President Trump and Scott Pruitt don’t seem to.” “More than a million Americans commented on the Clean Water Rule, with nearly 80% supporting strong protections. EPA held over 400 stakeholder meetings, and used the best science...

Groups: The Trump administration is putting America’s water resources more at risk than they have been in a generation

May 25, 2017 Contacts: Michael Kelly, Clean Water Action: 202-393-5449, mkelly@cleanwater.org Amy Kober, American Rivers:  503-708-1145, akober@americanrivers.org Rob Friedlander, Earthjustice:  202-797-5249, rfriedlander@earthjustice.org John Rumpler, Environment America:  617 747-4306, jrumpler@environmentamerica.org Milly Hawk Daniel, PolicyLink: 212-502-6492, mdaniel@policylink.org Trey Pollard, Sierra Club: 202- 495-3058, trey.pollard@sierraclub.org Washington, DC – Just before the second anniversary of the Obama administration’s most significant water pollution control initiative – the adoption of the Clean Water Rule – the Trump administration’s assault on public safeguards put America’s water resources more at risk than they have been in well over a generation, according to environmental, conservation, equity-focused, and community organizations. The groups marked the anniversary of the Clean Water Rule and contrasted that achievement with the Trump Administration’s planned rollback of vital protections for water and health and its proposed budget cuts to important clean water programs. They noted that the Trump administration is wildly out of step with the public, pointing out that recent polls show that concern about drinking water is as high as it has ever been and the Americans want environmental protection to be prioritized. “When it comes to the environment, everything President Trump has done in his first four months in office has been focused on one thing – putting polluters’ interests before public health and clean water. Repealing the Clean Water Rule and the cuts in the budget are part of this assault, said Bob Wendelgass, President and CEO of Clean Water Action. “We don’t get clean water by gutting protections for streams and wetlands. We can’t support small businesses by putting the infrastructure they rely on at risk of destruction. We won’t protect public health...

What They are Saying About the President’s “Fat” Budget Proposal

Wherein Environmental, Conservation, and Community Groups comment on President Trumps FY 2018 Budget Proposal Clean Water Action Irresponsible and Destructive Washington, DC – Today the White House released President Trump’s full budget proposal for FY 2018. The full budget proposal is similar to the outline released in March. This proposal reduces the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31.4%, which will severely hamper the agency’s ability to protect clean water and public health or enforce landmark laws like the Clean Water and Clean Air Acts. Members of Congress declared the budget outline in March “dead on arrival” and condemned the draconian cuts to programs that help states and cities clean up vital estuaries like Chesapeake Bay, waters like the Great Lakes, and more. Clean Water Action President Bob Wendelgass released the following statement in response. “After near universal condemnation of the reckless ‘skinny’ budget outline in March, the President doubled down on a terrible and mean budget that eviscerates the safety net and guts the programs we rely on to protect clean water and public health. Despite all his talk about improving infrastructure, the budget undermines drinking water programs by slashing programs that protect source water and gutting funding for pollution control and enforcement activities. The only people who benefit from this proposal are the wealthy, whose taxes will be lowered on the backs of the poor and sick, and corporate polluters who will be able to act with impunity, putting profits before public health and clean water.” “The only responsible thing for Congress to do is reject this budget. But that doesn’t get them off the hook. Congress can’t...

Letter to Administrator Pruitt, RE: the Clean Water Rule

Dear Administrator Pruitt: On behalf of our millions of supporters, we write to provide our perspective on your avowed intention to eliminate the important federal safeguards included in the 2015 Clean Water Rule — a process initiated when President Trump signed Executive Order 13,778 on February 28. We seek your commitment to carry out any such rulemaking in a way that is at least as deliberate, inclusive, and protective of vital waterways as the Clean Water Rule process was and that is based in sound science. In contrast to the extensive and inclusive process that led to the Clean Water Rule, the administration reportedly plans a hasty rulemaking without meaningful public participation. We are dismayed by reports that the agency intends to provide very little time for stakeholder engagement before proposing to undermine the Clean Water Rule’s protections and for official public comment on the proposal. And we especially fear the damage that a final rule would inflict on the nation’s waterways if, as Executive Order 13,778 forecasts, it relies on a legal test that a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court rejected and that would weaken the federal rules so that they protect fewer resources than they have in several decades. Read the rest of the...