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'Save the Bay': Local leaders work toward clean water solutions

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jan 25, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-25 22:28:51-05

GREEN BAY (NBC 26) — Leaders in government, education, farming and nonprofits are working with Rep. Mike Gallagher to find ways of improving the area's water quality.

  • Rep. Mike Gallagher hosted "Save the Bay" on Thursday at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to get feedback on recent legislation regarding clean water.
  • Video shows what the local leaders discussed.

Lake Michigan is a key source of clean water for neighborhoods across northeast Wisconsin, and leaders in government, agriculture, education, and nonprofits are working together to keep our watersheds healthy at Thursday's “Save the Bay” meeting led by Representative Mike Gallagher, who represents Wisconsin’s 8th congressional district in the U.S. House.

The leaders discussed what’s being done right now to keep the waters clean, for example, incentives for farmers to use certain farming practices.

"What are the right mixes of local, state, and federal incentives, so we can turbocharge these practices?” Rep. Gallagher said. “Then, you'll start to see a massive improvement in water quality over the long term."

Some participants brought up what still needs to be done or improved upon, like Duane Ducat with Deer Dairy, who described what he’s learned from farmers.

"If there’s going to be incentives coming in the future, sometimes you don’t qualify [for them] because you’re already doing it,” Ducat said. “To me, that’s a bad practice to have happen. We need to reward the people who are doing the practices already."

Rep. Gallagher also told the group about a few pieces of bipartisan legislation in Congress to promote clean water: the Healthy Farms Healthy Watersheds Act, which would target phosphorus levels; the No Emits Act, which aims to improve soil health; and the Healthy H2O Act, which would help provide grants for drinking water filters to remove PFAS, which are dangerous “forever chemicals.”

He said he’s working with Senator Tammy Baldwin to bring these bills to the Senate, but said it could still be a difficult road ahead.

“It's been a challenge to get anything passed in this house, much less a package that could also pass the Senate and become law,” Rep. Gallagher said.

He said he hopes to add these bills to the national farm bill, which is set to expire in September 2024.“Every year we kind of gather the thoughts from this group in particular, how we advocate for sustainable ag in the bill right now,” Rep. Gallagher said.

Rep. Gallagher said he hopes to continue to get community feedback to influence the next farm bill and other legislation.