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Great Lakes Article:

Wisconsin Water Environmental News Briefs
Posted 10/04/2002

C.A.N.O.E Special Edition
Citizen Action Network for our Environment

Volume 5 Issue 27

In This Special Edition

1. Nominate Your River Champion!
Tell Us Your Choice for our Annual River Champion Awards by October 4th!

2. Wisconsin's Strong Polluted Runoff Rules in Effect

3. River Alliance Launches Education Campaign for Lake Michigan Dam Owners

Today's Quote

"Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children's lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land."

- Luna Leopold

1. Nominate a River Champion!

Tell us your nominations for the annual River Alliance of Wisconsin River Champion Awards!

Each year, the River Alliance of Wisconsin honors individuals, businesses and organizations that have gone the extra mile to protect and restore our rivers and streams. We publicly recognize these award winners at our Annual Awards Dinner and Auction. This year, the event will be held the evening of Saturday, November 9th at Sentry World in Stevens Point.

If you would like to nominate an individual, organization or business in one or more categories, please fill out the form on the back. Please provide the appropriate contact information and describe the reasons you believe the nomination is warranted.
All nominations must be postmarked by no later than October 4, 2002.

Nominations Form


  1. Elected Official- An elected public official in local, state, or federal government who has been a leader in seeking legislation that will help to protect and/or restore the rivers and streams of Wisconsin.

  2. Private Sector- A business or corporation that has done exceptional work for the rivers and streams of Wisconsin.

  3. Public Sector- A government employee at the municipal, county, state or federal level whose actions have benefited our rivers and watersheds.

  4. Local Guardian- An individual or organization that has put forth meritorious effort on behalf of Wisconsin waterways at a local level.

  5. River Alliance Volunteer- A member of the River Alliance of Wisconsin who has furthered the aims and efforts of the Alliance and helped protect our rivers.

To nominate, print out this form and simply mail or email by Oct. 4!


2. Wisconsin's Strong Polluted Runoff Rules in Effect

Madison, WI -October 1st will be a notable day for Wisconsin's waters as the state's comprehensive, strong plan to protect Wisconsin's lakes, rivers and streams from polluted runoff goes into effect. The plan is the first of its kind in the nation.

"Wisconsin now has the toughest water quality law in the country for controlling polluted runoff," said Kerry Schumann, director of the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group.

Polluted runoff from farm fields and urban areas is the leading cause of water pollution in Wisconsin, contaminating 90% of our lakes, 40% of our streams, our Great Lakes coastal waters and our groundwater. The rules, taking effect October 1, 2002, will work toward curbing polluted runoff.

According to Caryl Terrell, spokesperson for the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club, "Wisconsin is a leader in restoring clean water because we are all working together to keep our streams and lakes free of excessive fertilizers and sediment, waste oil and street debris, and bacteria and parasites from pet and livestock wastes."

While the new nonpoint rules leave room for future improvement, they are the first nonpoint pollution control standards for Wisconsin that are enforceable statewide. The 70% cost-share requirement for agricultural conservation practices will make it financially feasible for farmers to continue their important roles as food producers in a way that protects our waters. Setting clear enforceable standards that allow for flexibility in how they are met recognizes the reality of circumstances in both urban and rural areas of the state.

"The performance standards are great," said Todd Ambs, executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin, "but there must be adequate resources to implement, monitor, and enforce the rules."

The Clean Water Coalition, an alliance of almost 40 conservation organizations representing more than 160,000 citizens, will be working to ensure the effective implementation and adequate funding of these new nonpoint pollution rules. The coalition plans to issue a report in 2004 that will detail the progress of the implementation process.

The CWC, in particular the River Alliance of Wisconsin and Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG), would like to thank the Beldon Fund for the generous support they provided for the work of WISPIRG and the CWC. Thanks also go to the Wisconsin Stewardship Fund.

For Fact Sheets explaining the rules, go to:


3. River Alliance Launches Education Campaign for Lake Michigan Dam Owners

Madison - On September 26, 2002, the River Alliance of Wisconsin launched the first part of a dam owner education project for the owners of almost 800 dams in the Lake Michigan Basin of Wisconsin. Every dam owner whose information was available from public records will receive a letter informing them of their ownership and responsibilities and inviting them to contact the River Alliance if they are interested in knowing more about their dam, including the option of removing it.

"Many folks may not even realize they own a dam" stated Helen Sarakinos, dam program manager at the River Alliance and coordinator of the project. "And they may not be aware that they are financially responsible and liable for that dam's safety." Many of the state's more than 3700 dams are aging and in need of expensive repairs. Selective removal of old, obsolete or unsafe dams can be an economical and effective solution. Removing a dam costs on average three to five times less than repairing it once in Wisconsin. A growing number of communities in Wisconsin are making the choice to remove dam structures from rivers and are then using the opportunity to create beautiful public parks or revitalize waterfronts.

"Dam removal will not be the right choice in all cases. However, we believe citizens have a right to know all the options available to them in order to make informed decisions that will benefit them, their community and their river," noted Todd Ambs, executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin.

The project has gotten support from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, UW Extension educators and elected officials. Dam owners are under no obligation to respond to the letter in any way but the organization believes that many owners may be interested in considering removal if all the options are explained to them.

"The program is a positive, voluntary initiative geared toward educating dam owners of the economic and legal responsibilities involved with dam ownership. This program is reaching out to dam owners in an effort to make them aware of dam removal options. It also serves as a resource to answer any questions a dam owner may have relating to his or her dam," explains State Senator Rob Cowles.

This education project is made possible by a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and through the support of the River Alliance of Wisconsin membership.


River Alliance of Wisconsin
306 East Wilson Street, #2W Madison, WI 53703
Tel: 608-257-2424. Fax: 608-260-9799.
Email: Web:

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