Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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What you can do to support the protection of clean water and the Petition for Corrective Action

Dec 10, 2015

When 16 Wisconsin residents signed onto a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asking for help in bringing our state back into full compliance with the Clean Water Act, they lent their names, their stories and their passion for Wisconsin's valuable water resources to the effort. Midwest Environmental Advocates is proud to stand with these citizens who are exercising their rights to petition their government and ask for help in protecting the environmental commons we all share.

Since we filed the Petition in October, a lot of people have asked to sign on to the Petition or do something to help the effort. While the Petition is now in the hands of the EPA, there are still things you can do to keep the conversation going in your community, and help others understand what's at stake and how Wisconsin's water pollution problems can be fixed. In one example, this week 45 retired and former Department of Natural Resources staff and division chiefs signed onto a letter in support of the Petition and further outlined their concerns about the direction of the agency's leadership.

As the EPA revisits the list of deficiencies in our state's water pollution permitting program, broad-sweeping pressure is integral to the prompt resolution of these problems, including fixing inadequate state laws that don't allow the DNR to protect the water we depend on for drinking and recreation. Midwest Environmental Advocates and Petitioners welcome support and action from all interested individuals and groups! Please use the contact information below if you have questions about how to get involved and how MEA might assist you.

Feel free to use the following recommendations as a starting point. Midwest Environmental Advocates and fellow clean water defenders appreciate unique ideas and contributions too.

  • Write a Letter to the Editor or an Op Ed piece for your local newspaper in support of your clean water resources, the Petition for Corrective Action and for the DNR staff who work hard to implement the science and enforce the laws that protect our water.
  • Write a letter to an elected official—whether local, state or federal—supporting the Petition for Corrective Action and explaining why the Petition is important to you and your community.
  • Ask questions about clean water to your elected officials or candidates as they run for office.
  • Host a clean water coffee chat in your community to discuss water issues in your area and how the Petition might impact those issues.
  • Get your clean water questions and concerns before your local officials. Consider mentioning the Petition at a local public meeting, particularly if the meeting agenda includes a topic related to clean water.
  • Do you own or support a local business that needs clean water, such as a restaurant, brewery or a paddling shop? Consider asking the business to host a clean water discussion, fundraiser or similar event. Consider doing so not for just water-based businesses but for local food cooperatives or other businesses that act as community leaders or gathering spots.
  • Do you teach or know a professor or other educator whose class would benefit from discussion or analysis of the Petition? Forward along the Petition with note that MEA staff are available to assist.
  • Host a ‘Petition 101’ educational forum, either with MEA in attendance or with supporting materials from our law center.
  • Include a brief explanation of the Petition in the newsletter for organizations to which you belong.
  • Join or form a local civic engagement, environmental, or clean water group in your community. Get people out on the lakes and streams to experience our State’s water resources!
  • Research the water impact of industries that exist in your community. If you live near a large farm, power plant, landfill, etc., work with that business and the DNR to determine if the business needs a water pollution permit. Get to know your local DNR staff and your County Conservationist to understand how these regulators work in your area. Ask MEA for contact information or other advice!
  • If you do live near a facility with a water pollution permit, push that operation to be a good neighbor. Is that facility willing to host a community tour, an informational meeting, or other event that would boost public transparency?
  • Public transparency is also well served by ongoing citizen monitoring of water pollution permits. This is one of the best ways for your community to understand whether a facility is complying with permit terms and conditions. Want to learn more about citizen monitoring? Contact MEA to learn about citizen monitoring trainings, whether from MEA or other citizen watchdog groups.
  • Never discount the impact of water on public health. Research any public health agencies or advocacy non-profits and get to know more about the water-related work that the group might do and any trends that the public health field sees in your community. Your contacts should include your county and local health department, public nurses, hospitals, clinics, etc.
If you take action in support of the PCA, please let us know so that we can share the story of your efforts.

Questions?

Visit our webpage dedicated to the Petition for Corrective Action for updates and related documents

Call or email MEA staff attorney Tressie Kamp for information on the content of the Petition: (608) 251-5047 x 8 or tkamp@midwestadvocates.org.

For media inquiries, interviews with Petitioners or contacts of supporting organizations, call or email Stacy Harbaugh: (608) 251-5047 x 1 or sharbaugh@midwestadvocates.org.

/ tagged: government, water, drinking water, lakes, federal