State News: Assembly Approves $10M Plan to Clean Up Wisconsin Water

State Assembly lawmakers have voted to approve a $10 million plan to address Wisconsin’s ongoing struggles with water quality. The 13 proposals are the result of a bipartisan legislative task force that held hearings across the state last year.

Wisconsin’s challenges with water quality include “forever chemical” contamination in wells, groundwater pollution caused by livestock manure, and wells contaminated with human and animal waste.

“Clean water is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it’s a state of Wisconsin issue,” Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) said before the vote. He chaired the water-quality task force.

The final bill in the package passed on a vote of 60-37, with Rep. Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) joining Democrats in voting against the plan. The proposal would change how the state handles municipal flood-control grants. Democrats argued it would make it more difficult for some communities to obtain state money after experiencing flooding. The DNR testified against the bill, saying it “deprioritizes public health and safety.”

The state Senate has not yet voted on the proposals.

Lake Michigan Water Levels Set Record High for January

Winter is historically when water levels recede in the Great Lakes, but last month, Lake Michigan broke a 33-year-old record high, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Damage caused by flooding from Lake Michigan prompted state and local authorities to declare a state of emergency in late January. The Corps has forecast that high water levels are “expected to persist for at least the next six months.”

During an interview with Kate Archer Kent on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Morning Show, hydrologist Drew Gronewold said erratic water levels in the Great Lakes may be increasingly common as a result of climate change. Gronewold, a University of Michigan associate professor, also discussed how communities are responding.

Mark Johnson Attends Reunion as ‘Miracle on Ice’ Turns 40 

Mark Johnson, head coach of the University of Wisconsin-Madison women’s hockey team, has led the team to five national championships. As a player, he holds the record for career goals by a Badger. Though he went on to play for 11 seasons in the National Hockey League, Johnson’s most famous achievement was as an amateur in Lake Placid, New York.

Feb. 22 marked the 40th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice,” when an underdog team of American college hockey players upset the Soviet Union’s defending gold medalists at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Johnson scored two goals in that game, which Sports Illustrated named the greatest moment in sports history.

NBC Sports reported that 18 of the 20 players on the American team attended the two-day reunion celebration. That included team captain Mike Eruzione, goalie Jim Craig and Johnson, who led the Olympic team in points.