Melissa Scanlan, director for the Center for Water Policy, talked to Courthouse News Services about the problem with manure runoff in drinking water.
Laura M. Suppes, PhD, MPH, REHS, has been named the 2022-23 Water Policy Scholar. Suppes is an associate professor in Public Health and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.
The Water Policy Scholars program brings policy researchers across the UW System together with freshwater scientists to frame policy questions and adapt tools to address water resource issues. The program is intended to increase the Center for Water Policy’s capacity to develop interdisciplinary and sustainable solutions to freshwater problems.
As a Water Policy Scholar, Dr. Suppes will address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are persistent, harmful, emerging contaminants present in Wisconsin ground water used for human consumption. When ingested, PFAS are associated with adverse health effects. Dr. Suppes’ Water Policy Scholar project, Model development for Assessing Illness Risk from PFAS Ingestion Exposures in Wisconsin, can help inform policy making around this emerging contaminant in water quality safety and public health. Water quality safety and emerging contaminants is one of the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin’s ten grand challenges.
Dr. Suppes’ research aims to assess the risk of adverse health outcomes from PFAS exposure in Eau Claire, WI residents. Eau Claire has more than 68,000 residents who rely on ground water as the source of municipal drinking water. PFAS were discovered in four of Eau Claire’s 16 municipal water wells during summer of 2021. Although Eau Claire’s water utility has stopped using the contaminated wells, residents consuming municipal drinking water prior to 2021 were exposed to PFAS.
Exposure data unique to the Eau Claire community, like average water ingestion volumes, will be collected and analyzed. Results will be shared with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department for use in public health messaging about PFAS exposure and illness risk, if any. The developed risk assessment model will be accessible to the Water Policy Network for use and dissemination. In the model, exposure inputs can be customized to assess illness probabilities in other areas of Wisconsin where PFAS have emerged as a drinking water contaminant. Community leaders, researchers or decision makers can use the model to assess illness probabilities unique to Wisconsin communities, helping guide policy decisions.
Suppes received her MPH in Public Health Administration and Policy from the University of Minnesota and PhD in Environmental Health Sciences from the University of Arizona. Her research interests are chemical and biological hazard identification and remediation in water, exposure assessment, and quantitative microbiological risk assessment. Her most recent research focuses on surveying indicators of nitrate contamination in private well water and assessing the impact of cyanuric acid on risk of gastrointestinal illness among swimmers.
Melissa Scanlan, director of the Center for Water Policy, provided an overview of Arlen Christenson’s professional accomplishments for his induction into the 2022 Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2022.
The Center for Water Policy contributed to and edited an article, published in the April 2022 Nelson Issue Brief. The Brief features research that addresses excess nutrient concentrations, mostly nitrogen and phosphorus, in surface water. Nutrient pollution degrades recreational and commercial use of surface waters from Wisconsin to the Gulf of Mexico, largely through blue-green algae blooms. In Wisconsin, phosphorus is the most-regulated nutrient, as nitrogen is often considered more of a threat to human health through polluted drinking water, though it also impacts surface waters.
Professor and Center Director Melissa Scanlan, author of Prosperity in the Fossil-Free Economy: Cooperatives and the Design of Sustainable Businesses, will present at George Mason University’s 2022 Next System Speakers Series on April 14, 2022, at 10:30 a.m. EDT.
This is a free, online event. Register here.
The Center for Water Policy has received funding from the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin to lead, facilitate, and support the UW Water Policy Network. The project’s goal is to foster collaboration on water policy research and curriculum across the System.
The Center’s strategy is to strengthen relationships among multi-disciplinary faculty, researchers, and students working on freshwater policy to build a community of practice. The Center convenes the UW Water Policy Network for presentations and discussions around key policy issues identified in the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin’s 10 Grand Water Challenges. The Policy Network serves as a hub for government agencies, private sector, NGOs, media, and other stakeholders, to identify water policy collaborators and experts.
“This support will help us strengthen our academic offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, prepare a skilled workforce, and provide the knowledge needed for difficult water policy decision-making in the not-so-distant the future,” said Rebecca Klaper, vice dean of the School of Freshwater Sciences, which houses the Center for Water Policy.
The funding is part of a statewide initiative, backed by the Wisconsin Legislature and Gov. Tony Evers, to tackle 10 grand water challenges and support curriculum development, undergraduate research opportunities, career development and field training experiences.
Altogether, the Freshwater Collaborative of Wisconsin will support 42 grants to further develop UW System-wide water science programs, internships and research opportunities. High school and undergraduate students will have opportunities to participate in hands-on field and research experiences with faculty throughout the state, allowing them to develop a diverse range of skills. The Collaborative is also partnering with industry, nonprofits and community organizations to increase career development opportunities for students.
Misbah Husain, a water policy specialist at the Center for Water Policy, spoke at the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee’s annual lecture series, “Tuesdays in March,” to address the challenges of climate change on Lake Michigan.
In an interview with Wisconsin Muslim Journal, Husain explained how his faith and his interest in environmentalism go hand in hand. His work at the Center for Water Policy grants him the opportunity to apply his faith in ways that are practical and beneficial to the surrounding community and the larger world.
Water Policy Specialist Misbah Husain will be speaking at the Milwaukee Interfaith Conference’s Tuesdays-in-March Lecture Series on “Confronting Climate Change with Hope” on March 15, 2022. He will be part of a panel discussion on “Addressing the Challenges of Climate Change on Lake Michigan” from Noon-1:30 p.m.
Registration required. More details and registration at https://www.interfaithconference.org/2022-virtual-tuesdays-in-march-lecture-series.
The series’ panelists will discuss the impacts of climate change on our communities’ wellbeing, as well as promising efforts to respond to climate change on the local and national levels.
Flooding is the most common – and expensive – natural disaster in the United States. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is key to helping communities manage the costs of severe flooding by providing options for flood insurance. However, climate change has drastically increased the nation’s flood risk, driving the NFIP into significant debt and creating situations where communities are under-insured or paying disproportionate amounts for flood insurance. In response, FEMA issued a Request for Information seeking feedback on revisions to the NFIP. This policy brief and response to the request for information explore the ways FEMA could revise the NFIP to remain financially viable while reducing potential inequities that could affect disadvantaged communities.