Category: EPA


English: Great Seal of the state of Wisconsin
English: Great Seal of the state of Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The longterm goal is cleaner water, fewer algae blooms  and weeds to improve the habitat for fish and other freshwater aquatic life that live in lakes, streams and rivers in Wisconsin.

The idea is to allow wastewater treatment plants, paper mills or dairies with pollution discharge permits to avoid or reduce pollution control costs, in favor of  developing partnerships within watersheds that reduce the flow of phosphorous.  Partnerships may include grants for farmers to change their field and husbandry practices and help communities control runoff from streets.  Regulations also allow water pollution trading among the many watersheds in Wisconsin, which may provide more flexibility to address the pollution issue.

Phosphorous is a nutrient in fertilizer and can be found in suburban yards, automatic dishwasher detergents and manure from farm fields. It causes algae blooms and increases weeds in streams, lakes and rivers.

Algal bloom on the dam

Algal bloom on the dam (Photo credit: MCG Images 2)

The new program to reduce runoff  is another step in the effort to control phosphorous. Wisconsin restricted the sale of fertilizer containing phosphorous in April 2010 and limited the phosphorous level in dishwasher detergents.

In Wisconsin, 172 waterways are polluted due to high levels of phosphorous which reduces their value and recreational use, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The latest phosphorous regulations were approved by Gov. Jim Doyle before he left office but needed EPA approval to move ahead.  Governor Walker tried to shelve the regulation early in 2011, saying Wisconsin’s rule couldn’t be stricter than surrounding states. 

Environmentalists and pro-lakes advocates argued that states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota had a greater interest in controlling phosphorous then states such as Illinois and Indiana with fewer lakes. Toni Herkert, policy maker at the Wisconsin Lakes Association, said law makers in farming and lake areas saw the regulations as a chance to take on the problems of algae blooms and weedy lakes.  In spring of 2011, legislators allowed the regulations to pass.

 A state analysis is underway on the economic impact of phosphorous reduction in bodies of water. The DNR expects the report will show that the benefits of cleaner water on property values will out strip the capital costs of pollution control.

“Using this rule, communities and businesses can work together to make more meaningful phosphorous reduction,” said DNR secretary Cathy Stepp.


The first anaerobic dry fermentation biodigester in the western hemisphere is up and running at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The alternative power system has been producing clean, renewable electricity from plant and food waste to supply electricity and heat for the university campus since Oct. 3.

University staff and students involved with the development of the power system had been stockpiling agricultural plant and food waste as feedstock in airless chambers and feeding it into the dry anaerobic biodigester since last summer in anticipation of bringing it online.

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of methane gas, CO2, and “non-methane organic compounds” or NMOCs into the atmosphere.  Anaerobic digestion is also used as a renewable energy source since the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production.

As the name indicates, ‘dry,’ as opposed to ‘wet,’ anaerobic digesters break down dry organic materials with moisture content of less than 75%, such as agricultural waste and plant material traditionally left over after harvesting a crop.

On Oct. 3, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh team decided they had enough biogas to start-up energy production, so they turned on the plant’s gas turbine engines. The biogas from the biodigester drives the turbines, which are expected to generate enough electricity in the start-up phase to meet 5% of the university’s electricity and heating needs.

Besides producing clean, renewable energy from agricultural and food waste – corn stalks, husks, leaves, and discarded food – the bio-energy plant is serving as an ideal site for experiential learning, particularly for biology and environmental students.

Proposed plans call for revenue from the plant to flow into student scholarships, campus laboratory upgrades and expansion, and the creation of a rural community development innovation center.


In less than a month, President Obama will make a decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Through the Tar Sands Action campaign, activists are working to encourage Obama to deny its construction. A sit-in to stop the pipeline was held August 20 to September 3 in Washington D.C.. During this two-week period of sustained civil disobedience, 1,252 people were arrested, among them junior environmental science major Adam Kranz from Lawrence University.

The pipeline, proposed by the TransCanada Corporation, would move crude oil 1,700 miles on its way from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

With a projected cost of $7 billion, the pipeline will carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day and create thousands of construction jobs. However, heated debate has arisen over the environmental damage the pipeline would cause. In order to extract oil from the tar sands, forests must be cut down, high amounts of carbon dioxide may be emitted, water sources will be threatened and spills and leaks are likely.

Circle the White House on November 6th &  write letters

As part of the Tar Sands Action project, campus organizations including LU’s Greenfire, Amnesty International and SWAHP have been working to protest the planned Keystone XL pipeline. Greenfire hopes to mail off approximately 1,000 letters as part of their campaign.

Pending funding, Greenfire hopes to send students to the final action of the Tar Sands Campaign on Nov. 6, precisely one year before the 2012 elections. Protestors plan to encircle the White House in a motion of solidarity and a final attempt to send their message to the President.

Kranz concluded, “This isn’t just an issue about climate change. It’s about environmental justice. It’s not an abstract thing. People in Canada are already dying of cancers. Our way of life is already being destroyed by the infrastructure and the spills that have taken place. It’s important to remember that this issue is not just about preserving the environment, it’s about protecting people.”


The town of Edmonston, one of the Washington, DC area’s lowest-lying communities, has had numerous clashes with its environment.  The Anacostia River splits the town in two, causing flooding during heavy rains. There have been four floods in the last decade. Two bridges, one for cars, bikes and pedestrians; and one for freight trains — reconnect Edmonston’s east and west sides. 

Located in Prince George’s County between much larger Hyattsville and Bladensburg, Edmonston is a middle class town of 1,400.  But Edmonston is now calling Decatur the “East Coast’s greenest street,” thanks to $1.3 million in stimulus money and a year of construction.

“We have no confirmation on that, but I will boast that it is the greenest street in the country,” said volunteer Mayor Adam C. Ortiz, who began working on revamping Decatur in 2007. “Block by block, from the tops of the trees to the stormwater system under the ground, it is as environmentally responsible as possible.”

Before the rain gardens were planted, dirty stormwater flowed through street drains emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. During storms, water would flood the streets. Now, the streets are clean and water-free, and the plants do most of the filtering work.

“This is the most important thing right here. These gardens — they’re low-tech, they’re affordable, and they’re completely sustainable,” Ortiz said.

“We wanted to show that there’s another way to build, there’s another way to prosper, that accepts full responsibility and does not pass problems downstream, and that it can be beautiful and livable.”

Edmonston officials unveiled the new Decatur Street in November 2010. Running three-fourths of a mile, it is now lined with about 30 maple, elm, sycamore and oak trees and energy-efficient, wind-powered streetlights. Crews installed a bike lane made of permeable asphalt that reduces storm runoff and pollution. They also narrowed the roadway by about eight feet, reducing the amount of pavement. The new sidewalks are made of permeable concrete blocks and landscaped areas, or “rain gardens,” that filter water naturally through the ground.

The Bigger Picture

Green streets have been built before, in Seattle and Portland, Ore., but they’re hard to find in towns like Edmonston, which has no stormwater filtration system.

Decatur Street has already won its admirers. The Chesapeake Bay Trust, which provided the initial $25,000 grant for the Edmonston project, plans to announce eight other green-street initiatives in Southeast Washington and the Baltimore area Wednesday, said Associate Director Jana L.D. Davis.

“If this can be replicated, many of these surprisingly inexpensive features can really help the environmental health of the bay,”  she said.

Although they’ve been in Wisconsin for over 80 years, Standard Process hasn’t been well-known until the last few years as people have become more concerned about health and nutrition.

The 420-acre certified organic farm, located a mile or so from its headquarters in Palmyra, WI., grows whole foods for their high nutrient content – alfalfa, barley grass,oats, pea vine, buckwheat, Spanish black radish, kale, beets, radishes, Brussels sprouts – and processes them into nutritional supplements.

Organic growing methods include:

  • All of the seeds are organic and always untreated and free of genetically modified organisms (GMO)
  • Zero tolerance for genetically modified seed, synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or seed treatments. Our whole foods are cultivated with only natural nutrition and no synthetic fertilizer.
  • Every field is professionally tiled to optimize drainage. And, we set our soil testing levels well beyond what’s required because we believe that well-managed soil produces high-quality raw materials.
  • Irrigation water is supplied from a naturally occurring artesian flowage, although we water as infrequently as possible to encourage the roots dig deep down and find nutrition.


Health Care Partners

Standard Process sells only to health care providers  including chiropractors, dentists, and acupuncturists. Many chiropractors prefer to recommend Standard Process supplements to their patients because the products use whole foods instead of more highly processed ingredients. Standard Process offers more than 300 products through three product lines: Standard Process whole food supplements, Standard Process Veterinary Formulas, and MediHerb herbal supplements. The company is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as state and federal agricultural departments.


Heavy flooding, snowfall or even a hard rain often create stormwater runoff  in some communities around the country. Excess water becomes an issue when it flows over the ground;  hitting a driveway, street or sidewalk which prevent  water from soaking into the ground. Instead, the water often picks up dirt, grass clippings, hazardous chemicals and other pollutants before it flows into a storm sewer system, which carries it untreated into a water shed.  The following tips can help reduce pollution runoff around your home.

Auto service: Have a mechanic check your cars for fluid leaks. Make sure to recycle your used motor oil and not pour it down the drain.

 Car wash: Take your car to a car wash where dirty water will be recycled and properly disposed.

Lawn fertilizer & treatment: Find organic methods to maintain your lawn and flowerbeds; use mulch and stones from the local recycling center for weed and moisture control.

Gutter replacement & repair: Direct downspouts away from paved surfaces; consider a rain barrel or creating a rain garden to capture additional runoff.

Landscaping:  Plant native plants and grasses that are drought and pest resistant to help runoff and erosion. Depending on the type and grade of your yard, consider a retaining wall or permeable pavers.

Plumbing: If you think your sewer or stormwater line maybe damaged and leaking pollutants, ask your plumber for a video inspection of your pipes.

Pooper scoopers/dog walking: Pick up after your dog so harmful bacteria isn’t washed into local water systems.

Septic tank: Get your septic tank pumped and inspected once a year. Poorly maintained systems can release bacteria.

When it finally opens next year, the Green Leaf Inn in  Wisconsin will be the only hotel in the United States that generates as much energy as it uses.

The Inn will use a wind turbine, solar power and geothermal energy to produce electricity, warm and cool air and hot water.

Other sustainable features include a 30,000 gallon underground tank to store rainwater for filling toilets and watering the landscape; a charging station for battery-powered cars; its own waste treatment system and suites with energy systems that shut down automatically when guests leave.

And it leaves no carbon footprint.

Located outside Delavan and near Lake Geneva, the 19-room Inn offers  hot tubs in every suite, wooden furniture and extensive gardens. Couples and groups can come to Green Leaf to relax and if they choose, learn about green living.

To learn more about the Green Leaf Inn, Fritz Kreiss and his wife Catherine McQueen and their story, visit them at