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Groups call on Governor Walker to protect Wisconsin’s lakes

For Immediate Release

Madison – On Tuesday, area fishermen, farmers and environmentalists held a press conference at Lake Waubesa, to call on Governor Walker and his administration to move ahead with protections for Wisconsin’s waterways.

“We cannot wait to protect our lakes,” said Megan Severson, State Advocate with Wisconsin Environment. “Our favorite swimming and fishing spots are being choked with algae and weeds and the problem is getting worse.  Governor Walker’s proposal to allow more pollution in our lakes is unacceptable.”

Last fall, the state adopted a new plan to reduce phosphorus, the main source of pollution that creates algae blooms in Wisconsin lakes.  But recently, Governor Walker has proposed delaying implementation of this lakes protection program. 

“Healthy lakes and streams are essential for fishing,” said area fisherman and Trout Unlimited representative Dan Wisniewski. “Whether for sport, business or a family outing, Wisconsin fishermen have seen the quality of our lakes deteriorate year after year.  Ignoring the problem is only going to make it harder to fish in Wisconsin.”

Sarah Lloyd, a dairy farmer, noted the importance of water protections for Wisconsin agriculture, saying, “Dairy farmers across the state are committed to the protection of Wisconsin’s waterways - lakes, streams, and rivers.  Clean water is important to our families, it is important to our livestock and our crops, and it is important to our communities.”  Lloyd and her husband Nels Nelson milk 300 cows and run about 1,000 acres of cropland in Columbia County.

Wisconsin Environment also released a new report at the event, Wisconsin’s Lakes at Risk: The Growing Threat of Pollution from Agriculture and Development, which documents the problem of runoff pollution in Wisconsin.  The report urges swift action to implement and enforce Wisconsin’s water protections, with the following findings:

  • A rapid increase in the number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) has increased the threat of runoff pollution.The number of CAFOs in Wisconsin has increased 16-fold in the past 15 years, from 10 in 1995 to almost 160 in 2010.
  • Runoff pollution contributes to the fact that 380,000 acres of Wisconsin’s lakes and reservoirs and more than 3,300 miles of streams and rivers are polluted and unable to support all the activities for which we rely on water.
  • Approximately 90 percent of recreation-related impairments of Wisconsin’s lakes and reservoirs are due to blooms of toxic blue-green algae.

“With legislators currently debating a proposal to delay enforcement of Wisconsin’s phosphorous standard, we urge Governor Walker and our state leaders to stand up for Wisconsin’s lakes and not delay or roll back the protections our lakes deserve,” said Severson.