Skip to main content
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Month: June 2018

Annie Egan and Celebrate Water!

In May of 2018, Door County began its inaugural Celebrate Water initiative. This year-long program will raise awareness of issues affecting the freshwater systems of Door County, and will conclude with a Water Summit, hosted by the UW-Oshkosh Environmental Research and Innovation Center, in June 2019. Events include water-themed art exhibits, talks and lectures, and a massive community kick-off at Sawyer Park. The mission of the festival is to “draw together the talents, efforts, energy and enthusiasm the county is known for and bolster the appreciation and awareness of our unique waters,” a mission the council will invoke year round by advocating for the freshwater systems that make Door County famous. This campaign was influenced by the affect Dan Egan’s book had on a very special person: his mother, Annie Egan.

Annie Egan has lived around water her entire life, growing up in Green Bay and raising her family in the area. Giving back to the community has always been important to her and her husband, Dick, who were named Door County’s Philanthropists of the Year in 2016. Besides sitting on numerous boards and committees, they are also founders of FUVIRESE USA, Inc. a 501(c)(3) charitable organization providing financial and administrative support to FUVIRESE, a charity working with disabled adults and children in Ecuador.

Annie and Dick Egan. Photo by Polly Alberts, Courtesy of Door County Pulse

Up until Dan Egan asked her to proofread his manuscript for The Death and Life of the Great Lakes, her efforts focused on local art and people in need. Water was always in the background of life, and she took its presence for granted. As an article states, her son’s book compelled her to use her influence and raise awareness about the issues affecting the water. She reached out to Healthy Water Door County, who responded by giving full support of  Celebrate Water. How would the community respond to such a campaign? Annie Egan says the community response, “has been amazing and has really evoked the pride we all have in what makes the Door County peninsula so unique – the water that surrounds us.”

The year long campaign is just starting out, and there are many ways to get involved. Visit celebratewaterdoorcounty.org for more information.

Recent Senate Legislation Threatens Great Lakes

In mid-April of this year, the United States Senate voted on a piece of legislation that would have removed the Environmental Protection Agency from managing ballast water discharge from freighters. Instead, management would be transferred completely to the Coast Guard. After days of immense pressure from conservationists, the measure was narrowly defeated. Was this a win for the conservation of the Great Lakes?

It was a small one, and to understand why conservationists are still concerned, it’s important to understand the damage ballast water has already caused. As defined by the Environment Protection Agency, ballast water is water that is taken up or discharged when cargo is unloaded or loaded, in order to maintain the ship’s stability and balance. Freighters traveling across the Atlantic pick up whole ecosystems when they take up ballast water, and the organisms subsequently dumped in the lakes can be a menace. Two such organisms, the quagga and zebra mussels, have been sucking the life out of the Great Lakes for over a decade. These organisms, which attach to hard surfaces like the iron infrastructure of industry, can cause up to $1 billion of damage per year, according to a 2010 report.

Photo: Kilian Fichou, AFP/Getty Images

Simply put, these invasive species are bad news, both in terms of industry and conservation. So why would the Senate try to roll back regulations that would curb the introduction of other invasive species?

Dan Egan reported on this issue extensively for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In an article released shortly after the Senate vote, Egan describes the conflict between the shipping industry, conservationists, and the government, saying, “Shipping industry advocates have been pushing for the change for years, arguing that the existing ballast water management program is too complicated…The problem, according to the conservation groups, is that the Coast Guard is ill-suited to manage this form of biological pollution and cannot compel the shipping industry to limit its discharges under the authority of the Clean Water Act, which is administered by the EPA.” A review of the measure is set for 2022, and until then, conservationists will continually advocate for regulations on ballast water discharge in the hopes of protecting the Great Lakes ecosystems.

Michala Roberts
Graduate Assistant, Go Big Read