Polluters Dumping into Wisconsin Waterways

For Immediate Release

Contact: Megan Severson, Advocate

megan@wisconsinenvironment.org, 608-385-9946

Industrial facilities dumped excessive pollution into Wisconsin’s waterways 29 times over 21 months, according to a new report by Wisconsin Environment Research & Policy Center. The facilities rarely faced penalties for this pollution. The Troubled Waters report comes as the Trump administration tries to weaken clean water protections and slash enforcement funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the states.

“All Wisconsin waterways should be clean for swimming, drinking water, and wildlife,” said Megan Severson, advocate with Wisconsin Environment. “But industrial polluters are still dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment, and no one is holding them accountable.”

In reviewing Clean Water Act compliance data from January 2016 through September 2017, Wisconsin Environment partner group Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found that major industrial facilities are regularly dumping pollution beyond legal limits set to protect human health and the environment, in Wisconsin and across the country.    

For example, the report shows that Neenah Paper poured pollutants in excess of its permit limits five times into the Fox River, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ICIS database.

"Water is the center to all living creatures," said Bill Pratt of Cranked Bike Studio in Neenah. “We must come together to keep our waters free of pollution world wide.”

The report also shows that polluters rarely face penalties, and recommends several measures to ensure stronger enforcement of, and protection for, clean water. Unfortunately, decision makers in Washington could soon make the pattern of pollution worse.  

“Polluters should be held accountable for clean water violations, and we need to protect our waters from even more attacks, like the Trump administration’s current proposals to weaken clean water protections and cut funding for the EPA,” said Severson. “Wisconsin’s waterways deserve to be protected.”