NEW Water testing local waterways to help reduce contaminants, long term

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) – Wastewater facilities in Wisconsin are up against stricter environmental regulations on contaminant discharge into our waterways, like phosphorous.

Looking for a cost-effective way to meet permit restrictions, NEW Water in the Green Bay area is going outside its fences, testing water quality to help reduce the problem before it gets into the Fox River and the bay of Green Bay.

Action 2 News met with Watershed Specialist Ben Young along with Watershed Programs Manager Erin Houghton on Wednesday who were getting a reading along Ashwaubenon Creek. The tests look for nutrients, contaminants, and sediments in the watershed.

“We're getting chlorophyll and chloride as well so we have all those parameters on this water quality meter here,” said Young.

It's only just started but the testing will go on for twenty years. It's to better understand what's making its way into our waterways, and how much.

“We've had a very wet spring, so with that we're getting obviously increased rainfall, causing increased stream bank erosion, which is introducing a lot more sediment and those associated nutrients, phosphorous and nitrogen into the system,” said Young.

Long term they want cleaner waterways but it takes everyone working together. NEW Water is working with United States Geological Survey which is monitoring the water flow conditions at the two testing sites.

“So we can work within the communities, looking at storm water runoff, we can also work with the agricultural community looking at agricultural runoff, we can also work with construction site managers to try to manage construction site runoff, there's a lot of different sources that collectively make up these non-point pools,” said Houghton.

Houghton said by doing things like clearing storm drains at home or cleaning up after pets we can all help the cause.