In addition to this weekly
E-Update, I also invite you to connect with me on local radio and TV. The schedule follows: 


Monthly Radio Shows


WEKZ - 93.7 FM

Wednesday mornings during the Lafayette County News


WRJC - 92.1 FM

1st Friday, 7:30 a.m.


WRCO - 100.9 FM

3rd Monday, 9 a.m.


WRDB - 1400 AM

3rd Friday, 10 a.m.


Monthly TV Shows


Reedsburg Utility Commission Cable Channel 12

Check Local Listings




2015-16 Blue Books

2015-16 Blue Books are a useful summary of information about our state.  These books are printed every session and are complimentary for every resident of Wisconsin. 


If you would like one delivered or shipped to you (no charge to you), please reply to this email and include your street and mailing address.


The full content of the book is also available online.  Click Here!





Phosphorus: Regulating Ourselves into the Poorhouse

In 2008, the federal government initiated the Gulf Hypoxia Action Plan (Action Plan) to improve the conditions of the Mississippi River Basin and the Northern Gulf of Mexico by addressing excess nitrogen and phosphorus loads. There are 30 states, including Wisconsin, that were approached with this plan because of our relationship with the Mississippi River.

In order to broadly manage the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen reaching the Gulf, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initiated guidelines and recommendations to states including encouragement to adopt numeric criteria for maximum phosphorus and nitrogen levels.

In 2010, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, the governing board of the Department Natural Resources (DNR), voluntarily signed up to participate in the Action Plan and set arbitrary numeric standards for phosphorus limits in our state’s waterways. The board did not sign up to monitor nitrogen. The DNR Board set the phosphorus discharge standard at .075 parts per million (ppm) or mg/liter. This threshold was not based on any science or cost/benefit analysis. The standard is the lowest in the country.

While the intent of this action was pragmatic, the real-world application of arbitrary numeric limitations has placed significant strain on communities throughout the state, including many in the 17th Senate District. The point sources of phosphorus are primarily wastewater treatment facilities. These are the only source that can be easily regulated by government. As such, a very large problem is on the shoulders of a small part of the cause.

As a result of the wide presence of phosphorus, this nutrient enters our waterways from natural, nonpoint and point sources. Natural sources include lake-bottom sediment and other natural decomposition. Nonpoint sources include general run-off, farm fields, feedlots, streets and parking lots. Point sources include municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants that release liquid effluent to lakes and rivers or spread sludge on fields.

In analyzing the three sources of phosphorus, it is clear to see that the only sources that are easily monitored, measured and regulated are point sources. This is where phosphorus regulation becomes a burden for many residents of the 17th Senate District and throughout the state.

The point sources in our communities are our municipal wastewater treatment facilities. These facilities are funded by ratepayers.

Municipal wastewater facilities are issued five-year permits by the DNR. Since 2011, new permits include new phosphorus requirements and a timeline to reach specific levels of phosphorus in order for our state to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which we volunteered to do in 2010.

As the first round of permits comes to a close, many of our municipalities are facing significant challenges to meet their requirements. The Village of Plain and the Village of Benton are at the point where they are adding a chemical - ferric chloride – to meet their goals. Plain is spending $20,000 per year on the chemical fix while the Village of Benton is spending $100,000 per year!

The Village of Plain has an interim limit of 3.6 ppm until 2020 and then they will need to meet the .075 ppm standard. According to Nick Ruhland, the Village’s Director of Public Works, the village would have to significantly upgrade and renovate their wastewater treatment plant in order to accomplish this standard. The cost for this, according to Ruhland, would be astronomical and the burden on ratepayers would be unreasonable. Plain is a village of only 782 people.

Sewer rates in Plain have already increased 10% per year since they signed their last permit in 2012. The minimum service charge for Village customers is currently $35.75 for up to 5000 gallons per quarter and $143.00 for non-Village customers per quarter. Adding a major renovation to the plant would multiply these rates significantly.

The Village of Benton is facing similar issues. Ryan Carver, the Benton Director of Public Works, said that user rates are likely to double in order for the village to comply with phosphorus standards on their current permit. The average household in Benton currently pays approximately $40.04 per month for sewer fees.

The cheapest option for Benton to meet their standard is the chemical additive method of water treatment, at the 20 year cost of $1.97 million. Annually, the Village will spend $98,688 to remove only 800 lbs of phosphorus per year. The chemical option will raise the average fee for ratepayers to at least $75.05 per month.

Looking ahead, in order to reach the .075 ppm standard, the Village estimates that they will also have to invest $950,000 to upgrade their wastewater treatment facility in order to apply the chemical fix. Carver, and village leaders, would rather not raise fees and add a chemical to their water in order to meet standards that they feel are unreasonable, and frankly, not their fault. The village feels that there are a lot of other contributing factors to the phosphorus they are trying to mitigate.

The Village of Benton is the first point source on the Galena/Fever River. There are 72 miles of watershed above the point source where the village discharges their water. The Village measures their discharge at less than 800 lbs of phosphorus annually. The DNR estimates that there are 116,000 lbs of phosphorus in the river.

The expense in Benton is shared by the 973 residents who live there. This unreasonable burden is nearly impossible for their small village to bear. But they are not alone.

The 17th Senate District includes 94 industrial and municipal wastewater discharges. According to the DNR, 85 of these facilities have potentially restrictive phosphorus limits that may warrant a facility upgrade; 9 facilities do not have restrictive phosphorus limitations or are already complying with their limits.

As much as we would like to, we cannot go back to 2010 and un-volunteer for these phosphorus standards. Non-compliance would impact significant federal dollars to our state and de-delegate Wisconsin so that the EPA would once again enforce regulations within our state. We don’t want to do that.

In response to this terrible burden, the Wisconsin legislature recently passed legislation that enabled the DNR to seek approval from the EPA to offer multi-discharger and individual variances to the numeric standards for individual municipalities. The state is currently waiting to see if the EPA will grant this request.

Current water treatment technology to achieve the very low, arbitrary standards we voluntarily set in 2010 is very expensive and unproven. By allowing our municipalities time to meet the standards, the EPA will enable Wisconsin to take advantage of new technology, study untested techniques and seek lower-cost alternatives.

The variances would also allow a permittee to undertake some activity to reduce phosphorus contributions from other sources in their watershed. They may be able to do this through water trading or adaptive management practices.

Water quality trading provides point sources with the flexibility to purchase pollutant reductions from other sources in their watershed to offset their point source load so that they will comply with their own permit requirements.

Adaptive management practices allows point and nonpoint sources (e.g. agricultural producers, storm water utilities, developers) to work together to improve water quality in those waters not meeting phosphorus standards. This option is time and people intensive and requires cooperation among a wide variety of entities.

While some villages, like Plain, would prefer to do water trading in order to meet their standards, other villages, like Benton, would prefer to pursue adaptive management. Either way, municipalities throughout the 17th Senate District, would greatly benefit from the ability to seek a variance on the stringent standards our state volunteered to adopt several years ago.

Like most municipalities in Wisconsin, both Benton and Plain recognize their role in protecting water quality, but they also know that the responsibility is much broader than the small shoulders of their village wastewater treatment plant. It is my hope that the EPA will approve the DNR’s request so that our state can offer municipalities the time, technology and flexibility to meet standards while working with their nonpoint neighbors to improve phosphorus levels overall.

Wisconsin Makes List of "Top 15" Best States for Business

Chief Executive magazine recently announced the results of their annual "Best State for Business" CEO survey.  Wisconsin is ranked 11th this year, improving 30 places in this ranking since 2010!

According to the survey results, CEOs also ranked Wisconsin 3rd overall in the Midwest. 

Chief Executive magazine's "Best and Worst States for Business" survey gauges the sentiment of CEOs on a variety of measures they view as critical, including the tax and regulatory regime, quality of the workforce and quality of the living environment.

The survey indicated Wisconsin outranks its neighboring states, beating Iowa (17th), Minnesota (34th), Michigan (40th) and Illinois (48th).

Wisconsin's recent rankings are as follows:

2016 - 11th
2015 - 12th
2014 - 14th
2013 - 17th
2012 - 20th
2011 - 24th
2010 - 41st

The full Chief Executive magazine report is available here.

In The 17th Senate District


Ms. Darci Even invited Sen. Howard Marklein to speak to her Accounting I class at Reedsburg Area High School on Wednesday, May 11, 2016. The Senator shared his background and stories about his career as an accountant.


Last month, Sen. Marklein had a successful hunt on opening day of turkey season, April 13, 2016. 

29 pounds. 1.25 inch spurs.








Sen. Marklein visited the Reedsburg Head Start classes to read Cows To The Rescue as a part of the Home and Community Education (HCE) Bookworm Program.


HCE is celebrating the reading of their 750,000th book this week!

Thanks to all of the students and teachers who welcomed me to be a part of their final day of classes! Have a wonderful summer!

In The Capitol


Shullsburg Elementary School visited the State Capitol on Friday, May 20, 2016.

Useful Information

Revenue Collections: April 2016 (Fiscal Year 2015-16)

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) recently released a report detailing general purpose revenue (GPR) taxes collected by the agency for the month of April.  This data is for the first 10 months of the fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2016. Our current year revenue collections are on track when compared to our budget.


Department of Revenue Collections

April 2016 (FY 2016)
($ thousands)


Revenue Source

FY 2015

FY 2016

% Change

Individual Income




General Sales & Use








Excise Taxes








Total GPR




*Source: Department of Revenue


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State Capitol - Room 8 South - Post Office Box 7882 - Madison, Wisconsin 53707 - Phone: (608) 266-0703