Special favors for a single developer

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"I'm sure you hear plenty about special interests and campaign donors receiving favors from elected officials. Well, this week brought us what may be one of the most blatant examples of that we've ever seen.

In a move that puts all of Brown County wetlands at risk, Special Session Assembly Bill 10 is an exemption from statewide wetlands protections for one developer–a developer who happens to be a major campaign contributor to Governor Scott Walker.


Meeting on groundwater tonight, 6:30 PM, 1/27/11

Groundwater is an important issue for Madison.  You cannot have economic growth without abundant sources of clean water.  Our groundwater is becoming contaminated--several wells have been shut down.  Recently, chromium 6, a cancer causing substance, was found in Madison's tapwater (although at extremely low levels).

In addition, the water table is being depleted, primarily because impervious surfaces prevent rain from getting into the ground.

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"Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD), the City of Fitchburg and its residents, and UW- Madison Water Resources Management (WRM) graduate students are working together on a project to evaluate the potential for using recycled treated water from the Nine Springs Wastewater Treatment Plant to recharge groundwater in the City of Fitchburg."

"The project is following up on concerns throughout Dane County that the groundwater table has dropped significantly over the past few decades following increased population growth and demand for water. Water recycling and subsequent recharge is one potential practice that could be used to address groundwater quantity issues."

"Please join us in a public discussion on Thursday, January 27th, 2011 from 6:30-8:30PM in the Fitchburg Room of the Community Center, 5510 Lacy Rd.,  to learn more about this important issue and to voice your comments, concerns, and ideas in small discussion groups facilitated by the WRM graduate students."

The Agenda

During the first hour, three speakers will present about groundwater problems in the area, the current groundwater infiltration project at Odana Hills Golf Course, and other Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District projects related to groundwater.  More

Important questions to ask about this project

Will the recycled water from the Nine Springs Plant be clean enough to protect the groundwater resource?  At Odana Hills, water being pumped into the ground during spring runoff is too salty, with resulting contamination of the groundwater there.  Monitoring wells show that the groundwater near Odana has now exceeded standards for chloride levels--so MG&E is in violation of their permit to pump.

Is there another, more cost-effective way to recharge groundwater, such as many rain gardens?  Pumping water into the ground is costly--for construction, and because it's a long-term commitment to the energy costs of pumping.


The importance of shore protection in the Watershed Plan

The Engineering Dept. has already committed to a three-year study of the Lake Wingra basin, with the aim of improved planning and coordination of management.  The Plan should include shore protection.
Shore protection--essential for water quality

One essential for water quality has long been recognized in Madison--reducing the input of nutrients and mud to the lake.  More recently, it's been recognized that controlling stormwater is also essential.  This boils down to infiltrating most of the rain where it falls--with rain gardens or pervious pavement.

But there's a third essential that's mostly been forgotten, because we live in a city where much of the shore is privately owned.  And that's protection of the shoreline itself, including the banks of streams that feed the lake.

Shoreline protection is vital because it's an area under assault--from wave action, wildlife, and intense human activity.  At the shore, any erosion feeds sediment directly to the lake.  Once started on the busy shore, erosion is very hard to stop.


Hazardous waste washed into Lake Wingra

Misdeeds are sometimes revealed when bodies float to the surface...  as happened recently at Lake Wingra.

On January 2, 2011, I found this bucket frozen in Lake Wingra.  Google research revealed the bucket had contained pipe joint mastic, a tarry compound used to seal box culverts--large pipes that carry stormwater.