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ARCHIVED Weekly News Published July 7, 2015

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Statewide drinking water report shows water supply safe and affordable; reinvestment continues

MADISON -- Wisconsin's drinking water supply remained safe and affordable in 2014 thanks to shared efforts by local water suppliers, the state and professional associations among others, according to an annual report on drinking water by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

During the year, public water systems continued their strong performance, with 95.5 percent or 10,904 of 11,420 systems meeting all health-based standards, a level virtually unchanged from the prior year. These systems had no water samples exceeding health-based standards for regulated contaminants.

"Wisconsin's public water systems serve their communities well, providing citizens with a safe, reliable and affordable supply of drinking water," said Jill Jonas, director of DNR's Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater. "These systems continue to reinvest in infrastructure improvements and training to ensure consistent long-term performance." DNR continues to work with public water systems through assistance from staff, contractors and county contacts to ensure that water samples are collected and public notices are issued correctly.

Fewer formal enforcement actions were needed in 2014. This improvement is partly due to DNR's work in previous years establishing long-term agreements with several public water systems for correcting their violations.

On average, Wisconsin residents pay $5.50 for 1,000 gallons of tap water - mere fractions of a penny per gallon according to the state Public Service Commission.

Thirty-one communities received more than $52 million in assistance for drinking water system infrastructure improvements, of which $46.2 million was low interest loans. These low interest loans can provide a cost savings of up to 30 percent to communities, enabling them to address challenges more quickly and economically.

For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov for "annual drinking water report [PDF]." More information about Wisconsin's drinking and groundwater also is available online.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Steve Elmore, Chief of DNR's Public Water Supply Section, 608-264-9246, Steve.Elmore@wiscosnin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR Communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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State issues air quality notice due to northern Canada wildfires

MADISON - Smoke drifting from wildfires in northern Canada has created air quality issues in many parts of the country, including Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources has issued an air quality notice for all 72 Wisconsin counties. State air quality monitors are recording elevated concentrations of fine particles at several locations around the state, particularly across northern and western Wisconsin.

Some sites are recording values in the "unhealthy for sensitive groups" category, which includes children, elderly people, individuals with respiratory and cardiac problems and people engaged in strenuous activities for prolonged periods of time.

Officials noted that, while smoke from wildfires often stays higher in the atmosphere, a cold front that passed through Wisconsin Monday night into Tuesday morning pulled the wildfire smoke closer to ground level.

Last week the department also sent firefighters to northern Canada to help battle the wildfires.

For additional information, you can view air quality data anytime on the DNR's web site, or visit the DNR's website dnr.wi.gov and search for "air quality."

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Gail Good, Air Program, 608-266-1058; Bill Cosh, communications, 608-267-2773

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Invasive faucet snail expands range to northern Wisconsin stream

MADISON -- Invasive faucet snails have been discovered in Elton Creek in Langlade County and stream users are being encouraged to remain vigilant against the invaders.

While the small snails can out-compete native snails, the greatest concern stems from their role as a host for parasites known to kill waterfowl that eat infected snails. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is now working to identify the snails' distribution in the area.

Previously found in the Great Lakes, the Mississippi River and the Wolf River system, this is the first known occurrence of the snail in a small, cold water stream in the region. While the faucet snail was likely introduced into the Great Lakes through ship ballast, its spread may be occurring by transport on watercraft, recreational gear and even waterfowl.

Bob Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, said the finding serves as a reminder to check boats and gear before leaving a waterway.

"Everyone needs to inspect their gear for plants, animals, mud and debris, remove anything that they find and drain all the water from their craft," Wakeman said. "These actions are required by law when you're fishing from a boat, trout fishing, trapping or even hunting waterfowl."

Wakeman said aquatic invasive species monitoring by DNR and partner groups around the state plays an important role.

"Better knowledge of where invasive species are located combined with existing and new outreach efforts will help us stop the spread of invasive species," he said. "It is up to each water user to protect Wisconsin's waters."

For more information, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for "aquatic invasive species efforts." A list of regulated aquatic invasive species including faucet snails (exit DNR) can be found on the DNR website by searching for "regulated invasive aquatic invertebrates."

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bob Wakeman, DNR aquatic invasive species coordinator, 262-574-2149, Robert.Wakeman@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov.

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Photo contest underway for 2016 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar

The 2016 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar will be featured as part of the December 2015 issue of the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine

MADISON -- People have until August 31, 2015 to enter their favorite photographs from a Wisconsin state park, forest, trail or recreation areas in a contest with winning photos to be included in the 2016 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar.

Again in 2015, in addition to being available for purchase, the calendar will be distributed to more than 90,000 subscribers of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine in the December 2015 issue.

This is the seventh year the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks has sponsored the photography competition.

"There are lots of activities happening at Wisconsin state parks during the four seasons," said Patty Loosen, state coordinator for FWSP. "So we're asking for entries that include in addition to the beautiful scenery, people enjoying activities at like hiking, picnicking, biking, cross country skiing, kayaking, horseback riding, and biking. We are looking for entries that represent all four seasons."

The deadline for all submissions is Monday, August 31, 2015.

Submissions are only accepted from amateur photographers ages 14 and over. Professional photographers who earn more than half of their income taking pictures are not eligible. Employees of the DNR and board members of the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks and their immediate family members are not eligible to win. Photographs must have been shot within the past three years (since Jan. 1, 2013) and no more than four photos may be entered.

A panel of Friends of Wisconsin State Parks board members and staff will review accepted entries and select the winning photos. Photo awards will be presented at the FWSP Annual Awards banquet on November 14, 2015.

More information and details on entering and contest rules are available on the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks website friendswiparks.blogspot.com (exit DNR) by clicking on the tab for "photo contest." The 2015 Friends of Wisconsin State Parks Calendar [PDF] is available on the Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine website.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Patricia Loosen, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks coordinator, 608-264-8994

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Flooding can contaminate wells; private well owners encouraged to check their drinking water

MADISON -- Heavy rains can create conditions that affect private wells and drinking water.

"If you live in an area that was recently or is currently flooded, your private well may be in danger of contamination from pollutants carried in floodwaters," said Liesa Lehmann, private water section chief with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Well owners who observe flooding or changes in their water should assume their wells are contaminated and take the following steps:

Flood waters and runoff contain bacteria and other contaminants that can affect water supplies and cause water-borne illness. Wells located in pits, basements and low-lying areas are especially susceptible to contamination.

Even without obvious signs of flooding, a well can become contaminated. More recommendations for private well owners that have over-topped wells area available on the DNR website.

"Disinfection and sampling are best done by a licensed well driller or pump installer," Lehmann said. Any water supply system that has been submerged by flood waters should be pumped out once the floodwater recedes, then thoroughly disinfected and tested to determine that the water is safe.

Private well owners are encouraged to test their wells annually for bacteria and nitrates, to check for problems and ensure the water is safe to drink. More information on bacteriological contamination of drinking water wells, along with lists of licensed well drillers, pump installer and labs certified to analyze water samples are available by searching the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword wells.

For individuals who receive their drinking water from a public water supply, these systems are designed and operated to keep out contaminants. If you have concerns about the safety of your community's drinking water, contact your public water supplier.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Stacy Steinke, DNR private water specialist, 715-839-3773, StacyJ.Steinke@Wisconsin.gov; Marty Nessman, DNR private water field supervisor, 608-267-2449; Martin.Nessman@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084, Jennifer.Sereno@wisconsin.gov

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REWARD: Free safety cones from DNR and DQ add to summer fun

MADISON -- While good behavior may be its own reward, a program offering free American Dairy Queen treats for safety out on Wisconsin's waters and trails is helping to sweeten the habit.

To encourage safety on a variety of recreational vehicles, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is teaming up with Wisconsin DQ's for the second year to hand out coupons good for a free soft serve cone to youth demonstrating responsible habits and courteous behavior. The coupons can be redeemed at any of the more than 120 DQ's conveniently located statewide.

"This program was a great success during its first year and we're pleased to be able to continue the partnership for the benefit of our young recreational enthusiasts," said Roy Zellmer, conservation warden supervisor with DNR's Bureau of Law Enforcement. "The coupons make for a nice way to engage with youth and we find that they are often eager to share their positive experiences with us as they enjoy Wisconsin's outdoors."

What are DNR wardens looking for on the "most wanted" list of good behaviors? Zellmer said most kids probably already know the answers:

James Braasch, North Central marketing spokesman for Dairy Queen, said the Wisconsin safety rewards program is similar to an effort with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources that also has generated positive results. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board recently approved a $75,000 donation from the company to continue funding in Wisconsin over the next two years.

"Our Wisconsin DQ franchise locations are a favorite stop for our fans enjoying outdoor recreational opportunities. DQ is pleased to partner with the Wisconsin DNR to encourage respect for our natural resources," Braasch said. "Together, we hope the effort promotes safety, encourages good citizenship and supports positive interactions with law enforcement in the communities we serve."

The program runs throughout the year and wardens will carry the free safety cone coupons with them as they travel the state's waters, woods and trails. While the initial focus will be geared toward youth on all-terrain vehicles, utility vehicles and watercraft, wardens will look for young snowmobile riders to reward later in the year.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Roy Zellmer, warden supervisor, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-212-5385, Roy.Zellmer@wisconsin.gov; Penny Kanable, recreational boating program, DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, 608-228-9352, Penny.Kanable@wisconsin.gov; Gary Eddy, DNR ATV/snowmobile administrator, 608-245-2315, Gary.Eddy@wisconsin.gov; Jennifer Sereno, DNR communications, 608-770-8084.

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Youth conservation skills day set for July 16

EDITOR'S ADVISORY: This youth skills day has been postponed and will be rescheduled.

BARABOO, Wis. -- A youth conservation skills day will be held Thursday, July 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ho-Chunk Nation Neesh-la Pow wow grounds, S2917 County Road BD Baraboo, Wis., 53913.

The program is open to the public. It is coordinated and partially supported by the Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training of Milwaukee, a 501(c)(3) organization, as part of a state-tribal effort by the Department of Natural Resources and the Ho-Chunk Nation.

The event is expected to draw more than 150 youth from the Ho-Chunk Nation, Wisconsin, Japan and China. Mark LaBarbera of the Outdoor Heritage Education Center is organizing skill activities in partnership with Ho-Chunk.

Activities during the day will include drumming, dance, cultural displays, Native American food, games, and outdoor skill sessions. A Ho-Chunk Nation smudging ceremony is planned to connect and inspire youth to create a conservation legacy.

Registration information is available at: tinyurl.com/waget15 (exit DNR). Admission is $5 for children under 16, which includes a lunch and commemoration medallion. Adults accompanying youth are free and included for lunch. Otherwise, admission is $15.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeff Smoller, DNR deputy operations manager, Jeffrey.Smoller@wisconsin.gov, 608-266-1117

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Read more: Previous Weekly News

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 07, 2015




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