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The Milwaukee suburb of Waukesha received approval in 2016 to draw drinking water from Lake Michigan after a years-long bid to replace its radium-tainted groundwater supply. Waukesha became the first community not located within the Great Lakes Basin to gain access to this water source. The decision marked an historic test of the binational Great Lakes Compact between the U.S. and Canada governing use of the five lakes. As Waukesha prepares to start accessing the water by the early 2020s, controversies continue over how it will affect state and regional waterways and the precedent it sets in Great Lakes water policy.More
A growing nuisance to gardeners, farmers, landscapers and homeowners across the Midwest, Japanese beetles devour ornamental plants like birches, crabapples and roses, and likewise feast on crop plants like apples, pears, beans, corn and many other fruit and vegetable species. Although this invasive species of insect was identified across many parts of in Wisconsin through the 1990s, it was first detected in the state in the 1960s. While certain methods of managing this troublesome beetle can yield some success, warmer winter conditions could mean larger populations in the future.More
ShotSpotter screen view
As the population and computing power grow, the complex systems that support everyday life have the capacity to generate detailed data that can provide crucial insights into health, education, the economy and much more. But those systems can still fall short in gathering useful or relevant information. In some cases, information is spread among disparate entities. In others, it simply has not been analyzed. When data is limited, these gaps can reveal blind spots among and challenges to policies and institutions.More
It's an unsavory truth in American democracy that politicians, to some extent, do get to choose their voters. The party in power often tries to draw state legislative and U.S. House of Representatives district maps to its own advantage, and courts have been reluctant to stop it unless there's strong evidence of racial discrimination. The Republican wave of election victories in 2010, and the increasing sophistication of redistricting software set the stage for an aggressive new batch of legislative maps in Wisconsin and other states. Multiple federal lawsuits challenging this redistricting followed. One court challenge arising from Wisconsin, Gill v. Whitford, set out to prove that partisan gerrymandering could violate voters' rights even if it wasn't racially discriminatory. The case reached the U. S. Supreme Court, and the resulting decision could trigger a seismic change in how political parties consolidate electoral power.More
Growing vegetables, herbs, flowers and other plants in containers can be fun and rewarding, and may help save money at the grocery store. From getting an early start on the growing season by germinating seeds indoors to brightening the holidays, container gardening can help people with limited outdoor space turn patios into patches of green space and provide a touch of summer indoors during Wisconsin’s long colder months. Whatever planters might look like, the correct combination of soil, light and water will help gardeners get the best results from their efforts.More