Lawmakers take up phosphorus discharge rulesState lawmakers are now considering DNR rules that aim to reduce the algae blooms that clog up many Wisconsin lakes and waterways. Several businesses say the move would come at a hefty cost.
By: Shawn Johnson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
State lawmakers are now considering DNR rules that aim to reduce the algae blooms that clog up many Wisconsin lakes and waterways. Several businesses say the move would come at a hefty cost.
The rules approved by the Department of Natural Resources Board a month ago would cut back on phosphorus discharge from point sources, like food processors or paper mills, and non-point sources like farms. Environmental groups back the change, saying that lakes and streams are unsafe without it.
So does Rick Carlson, whose family runs a restaurant on Castle Rock Lake. He told a state Senate panel that algae blooms regularly drive away customers.
But the industries that would be regulated are fighting the proposal. Nick George, president of the Midwest Food Processors Association, says his members release phosphorus into the water supply when they wash vegetables. He says the rule package is being “slammed through” and rejects the idea that if the state does not move to curb phosphorus, the federal Environmental Protection Agency will. George sees the EPA threat as hollow, and adds the bill has the potential to put a lot of jobs in jeopardy.
Two state Senate panels heard testimony on both phosphorus rules and could decide to make changes to the plans. But the way the state rulemaking process works, they could also decide to do nothing and the rules would automatically take effect in early September.