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Where were you when you first heard about Freedom Industry’s contamination of the Elk River and the 300,000 people who depend on it for daily water? I remember it well: I was driving east on I-94 toward Milwaukee, returning from an afternoon meeting. It caught my attention because my mother’s roots are in Charleston, W.V., and our family has a long, loved history with the Elk.Read More
If you care enough about water to read this blog, you need to read David Sedlak’s new book, Water 4.0. When David told me about his undertaking, I foolishly type-cast him as the erudite engineering professor that he is and imagined a dense textbook about water infrastructure that only a graduate engineering student could love. This is one of the rare occasions that I’m anxious to tell you how very wrong I was.Read More
My guess is that you’re probably pretty comfortable with the flush toilet. Having a clean, operational toilet and the privacy that comes with it is something you probably take for granted, right? The flush toilet long ago revolutionized the way we live, and was part of the advances in human health and sanitation that lengthened our lifespan and facilitated urban growth. It solved a number of society’s problems, but as we face growing resource constraints, is it time for us to reconsider how we go?Read More
Who says sustainability is bad for the bottom line? It was Wisconsin’s own Sen. Gaylord Nelson, most famously known as the founder of Earth Day, who correctly stated, "The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around." In other words, if you think big enough, there is only one balance sheet, and that’s the one for the planet as a whole.Read More
People sometimes ask me how we select our meeting topics. There isn’t any particular formula to how we do our work, but I like to tell people that we try to answer for ourselves: What is the question that isn’t being asked, but needs to be asked? In my head I have an image of a bead of water building up on a hard-packed sandy beach, but still held together by surface tension among the water molecules. If you scratch a little runway along one edge of the pooled water, it will begin to run out in that direction.Read More
It has been more than three years since the participants in The Johnson Foundation’s Freshwater Summit issued its Freshwater Call to Action, asking leaders from all sectors of society to address the challenges facing the United States’ freshwater resources. Paging back through the document from today’s vantage, it seems more prescient than ever.Read More
I love water. I love rivers. And when I travel, it’s not unusual for me to want to find the local river or water body. As the former Executive Director of the Milwaukee Riverkeeper®, I have a special place in my heart for urban rivers and the challenges they and their human neighbors face. But in the mythos of urban rivers, the Los Angeles River is Mecca.Read More
One of the things I remember my father saying about Mundy Point, a small peninsula of land on Virginia’s coastal plain that I’ve been visiting since before I had braces, was that it was blessed with an artesian water system. At the time I didn’t fully understand what that meant, but I knew it was good.Read More
A few days ago, the New York Times ran a piece about increasing rail traffic in the Pacific Northwest due to growing shipments of oil from the Bakken fields in North Dakota, as well as coal headed for westward export across the Pacific Ocean. While this increased traffic is great for the rail business, it means very busy tracks in Spokane, Wash., the pinch point through which the trains all travel.Read More