The City of Madison recently launched a new website to report storm-related problems following the historic flooding in late August. More than 10 inches of rain fell on Madison over the course of eight hours on August 20. Immediate flash flooding occurred, and Madison’s lakes swelled to historic highs. Lake Mendota rose 16 inches, and Lake Monona rose more than 10 inches above it’s record elevation. Some areas of the city saw five-feet deep flood waters.
A resolution was adopted in July at a City Council meeting that will transition Madison to a 100 percent renewable energy. Madison is one of three Wisconsin municipalities that adopted a 100% renewable energy goal. The other cities are Eau Claire and Middleton. In 2017, Madison established a community-wide energy and carbon goal of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions, and the city selected Sustainable Engineering Group LLC to provide a plan for city operations to achieve goals of 100 percent renewable energy and net-zero carbon. The resolution allowed the city to enter a contract with OneEnergy Renewables, an independent developer of community and utility-scale solar energy projects across North America, with a focus on commercial, institutional and utility customers, for the annual purchase and sale of renewable energy credits (REC) from 2019 to 2023.
Public Health Madison & Dane County is offering free private well water testing to impacted Dane County residents following last week’s floods. Torrential rains flooded many parts of west Madison and Dane county last week, causing both Gov. Scott Walker and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi to declare states of emergency. In response, Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC), a local health department run by Dane County, announced Monday that it is teaming up with the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and Wisconsin Department of Health Services to offer free and expanded testing services to private well owners affected by the floods. “We want to make water testing for well owners hit hardest by the flooding as easy as possible for folks,” said Doug Voegeli, Environmental Health Director for PHMDC. “Doing this testing is crucial for making sure that your water is safe since drinking water contaminated with bacteria can cause illness.”
There are approximately 23,000 private wells in Dane County, and PHMDC estimates that about 10,000 private wells are in or near areas impacted by the floods.
Despite Madison’s compost pilot program coming to an end last month due to contamination issues, the City hopes to restart the program in 2019. The program, officially called the organics collection program but can more accurately be understood as a food scraps recycling program, began in 2011 to reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill. The program had to stop because too many participants, which included residents and businesses, were putting non-compostable items in compost bins, thus contaminating the compostable material. “This isn’t over,” said Bryan Johnson, the Recycling Coordinator for the City of Madison Streets Division. “The program, the way we had it, wasn’t working with the processing options that were available to us.
The future is getting brighter for wind and solar energy in the Midwest. Two Madison-based power companies, Alliant Energy Corporation and Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), have recently invested in clean energy sources that will affect thousands of customers across the Midwest. Alliant and MGE are investing in wind and solar energy, respectively. Wisconsin Public Service of Green Bay will also invest in solar energy alongside MGE. Alliant has partnered with Tradewind Energy, an independent renewable power developer to bring English Farms Wind Farm to completion.
Paul Soglin will propose a $17 vehicle-registration fee to help close budget shortfalls and maintain community service programs for low-income residents. Chris Rickert, Wisconsin State Journal, 6/15. Community
The Dane County Immigration and Refugee Task Force, created last summer, announced its recommendations, including a call for a universal drivers' card. Madison 365, 6/15. The James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Church on Madison's eastside is renovating its building to serve as a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants.
Climate change is about more than temperature change. For University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor Hilary Dugan, the bigger concern with changing climate revolves around Madison’s lakes and rainfall. Dugan, who teaches within UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, said there are projections that Wisconsin’s rainfalls are going to come in bigger storms. Instead of storms with two inches of rain, a storm may drop four or five inches. There won’t necessarily be an increase in the number of storms she added. With larger rainstorms, comes more landscape material being washed into the rivers and lakes Dugan said.
Abnormally high temperatures this May have caused a significant uptick in Wisconsin's deer tick population. Indomitable pests, deer ticks can be found in any area with moist, dense shrubbery or tall grass, and are transporters of the notorious Lyme disease. Public Health Madison and Dane County released a statement that warned of the population boom, explaining that there has been a significant increase in the cases of Lyme disease over the past few years. While humans can minimize the chance of being bitten by simply avoiding threatening areas, our beloved pets lack the cognitive ability to do so, making them susceptible to an unfortunate encounter. If a tick is able to stealthy attach itself to a dog or cat, there is a high chance that Lyme disease will be transmitted, and with it many degenerating symptoms, such as fever, swelling of joints, lameness and in severe cases death.
The Madison Food Policy Council’s Pollinator Protection work group introduced a resolution to the Common Council last week allowing the creation of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy Review Task Force.
The task force will revisit policies on pesticides and integrated pest management. Their goal is to explore ways to eliminate or reduce pesticide use to improve the habitats of pollinators on city-owned land. Currently, the resolution is being referred to five to six committees, and the Council is expected to adopt the resolution by July. If approved, the task force will convene and begin reviewing recommendations and then dismiss by early 2019.
In an announcement made last month, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection announced that starting Friday March 30th, the entire state will be placed under quarantine for the invasive emerald ash borer. The quarantine prohibits moving firewood from quarantined areas to non-quarantined areas, and will require that business handling ash wood and untreated ash products work with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to adhere to protocols that reduce the risk of transporting the insect to other areas. The emerald ash borer is an invasive beetle species that feeds on ash trees, and has been destructive to American ash tree populations. The beetle was first found in Wisconsin in 2008 – now, it has been recorded in 48 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. Emerald ash borer quarantines were previously enforced at the county level, but the growing extent of the infestation prompted the statewide quarantine.