Enhancing Wisconsin’s Capacity to Address Environmental Health Hazards

We are looking for partners to collaborate!

If you or your organization are interested in collaborating on the Safe Drinking Water or Healthy Homes aspects of the Environmental Health Capacity Project, please reach out to us at dhsdphehc@dhs.wisconsin.gov

More information on mini-grant funding opportunities related to Safe Drinking Water and Healthy Homes will be coming in later years.

In 2020, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve overall environmental health practice.

The Environmental Health Capacity Project provides the opportunity to enhance capacity across the state to better address, prevent, and control the environmental health hazards that impact Wisconsinites. Wisconsin DHS was one of 31 states to receive funding from the CDC to help support these efforts.

Through this project, we will enhance Wisconsin's capacity to ensure all residents are safe from environmental health hazards where they live, work, and play through a multifaceted approach.

The Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health will partner and collaborate with local and tribal health departments, community organizations, and state agencies to ensure our efforts focus on the concerns and needs of populations most negatively affected by environmental health hazards. In addition to partnership building, we will:

Research factors affecting environmental health hazards

 

Inventory and evaluate environmental data systems

 

 

Support local projects to implement effective interventions

 

 

Develop tools and resources for partners across the state

 

 

We are focusing on environmental health hazards related to Natural Disaster Recovery, Healthy Homes, and Safe Drinking Water. You can learn more about each of the components of the project below.

Natural Disaster Recovery

Wisconsin map - EHC component

DHS will address environmental health hazards related to declared natural disasters. We will support environmental hazard response, recovery, and mitigation in the communities affected by recent natural disasters.

In 2018 and 2019, Wisconsin experienced three major natural disasters that affected two tribes and 33 counties. These disasters were caused by extreme storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds, and flooding. Natural disasters and extreme weather events can lead to structural damage, post-disaster environmental health hazards in homes and drinking water, and loss of life.

This project will focus on the effects of disasters and help us identify their related hazards, develop and implement effective interventions, and eliminate post-disaster hazards.

For resources related to natural disasters and emergency preparedness, please see the following pages:

Where we are:

Activity Description Date

 

Call for and selection of partner interventions

We reached out to the two tribes and 33 counties affected by the 2018/2019 FEMA declared disasters to identify projects that would help identify, control, and prevent environmental health hazards caused or worsened by extreme weather disasters. Monroe and Vernon counties responded to this inquiry. February-March 2021

 

Partner Kick-Off Meeting

A meeting was held with with local and tribal health departments, community organizations, and state agencies. This meeting introduced potential partners to the project, garnered input and feedback on the various components of the project, and worked to identify additional partners. July 2021

 

Partner Training Input Form

An input form was created and sent out to all tribes and counties that were affected by the 2018/2019 declared disasters to gauge interest and utility of data visualization training. November 2021

 

Where we are going:

Activity Description Date

 

Design and hold partner training

Data visualization training webinars will be held for interested counties and tribes affected by the 2018-2019 declared disasters. Early 2022

 

 

Implement partner interventions

Monroe County:

One project will modernize the Tri-Creek flood warning system by replacing the outdated existing flood warning system with Real Time Weather Monitoring Equipment provided by Intellisense.

The second project will install real-time precipitation and stream monitoring stations with cameras along the rivers and streams within the Upper Kickapoo and Little La Crosse watersheds. This includes a visual warning system for Amish communities who have limited or no access to the internet or other communication services.

By modernizing the flood warning systems and installing monitoring systems, the effects of flood-related environmental hazards will be mitigated through improved emergency response time and reduced risk for rural communities in flood-prone watersheds of Monroe County.

Vernon County:

The first project will install a series of signs to indicate the entrance into and location of watersheds across the county.

The second project support the purchase of a nitrate testing machine to increase the capacity of the local water testing laboratory to identify and address nitrate concerns within ground water.

These projects aid in mitigating
flood-related environmental hazards through increased public awareness, understanding, and participation in watershed management efforts. Additionally, they increase Vernon County’s ability to identify and control safe water drinkability across the community.

Early 2022

 

Data evaluation and analysis

We will evaluate environmental health data collected and determine how it can be used for future planning.
We will also review surveillance measures put in place during a disaster.
 
Mid 2022 and beyond

Healthy Homes

Child hands inside adult hands holding a blue paper cutout houseDHS will build capacity to address environmental health hazards affecting people where they live. We will enhance Wisconsin’s capacity to address, prevent, and control environmental health hazards that affect Wisconsinites homes.

Unhealthy conditions within Wisconsin’s housing stock can lead to lead poisoning, asthma, respiratory illnesses, cancer, injuries, and other negative health outcomes. Safe and healthy housing is necessary to protect the health of Wisconsinites, especially those who are inequitably burdened by unsafe housing. We will be focusing primarily on rental housing within rural areas. This project provides us the resources to address the environmental health hazards that affect people in their homes and will improve our ability to assist the populations with greatest need.

For resources on healthy homes and what you can do to keep your home safe and healthy, please see the following pages:

Where we are:

Activity Description Date

 

Partner Kick-Off Meeting

A meeting was held with with local and tribal health departments, community organizations, and state agencies. This meeting introduced potential partners to the project, garnered input and feedback on the various components of the project, and worked to identify additional partners. July 2021

 

Where we are going:

Activity Description Date

 

Research factors affecting environmental health hazards

We will determine barriers to including environmental health in community and state health assessments and plans.

We will develop protocols to facilitate the incorporation of environmental health into assessments and plans.

Will begin in late 2021

 

 

Inventory and evaluate environmental health data systems.

We will inventory existing datasets and identify areas for improvement.

We will locate and introduce additional data on the Tracking Portal.

Will begin in mid 2022

 

Call for and selection of partner interventions

We will plan, develop, and support projects to address environmental health hazards that affect Wisconsinites where they live by providing mini-grants to multiple partners. Mid 2022

 

 

Implement partner interventions

We will aid in implementing and evaluating environmental health interventions. Late 2022

 

Develop tools and resources for using and sharing data

We will develop trainings, tools and resources on using and sharing data.

We will share findings local and nationally.

Will begin in mid 2022

Safe Drinking Water

A child drinking from a bubbler outsideDHS will improve access to safe drinking water from small public systems. We will enhance the capacity for small public water systems to address environmental health hazards.

Within Wisconsin, 83% of community water systems serve small populations, meaning each system serves 3,300 or fewer people. These systems are often at risk for environmental health hazards such as high nitrate levels, flooding, and emerging contaminants. This project provides us the opportunity to use evidence-based practices to identify and reduce environmental health hazards impacting the large proportion of Wisconsinites who get their drinking water from small public water systems.

For resources on safe drinking water and how it can affect your health, please see the following pages:

Where we are:

Activity Description Date

 

Partner Kick-Off Meeting

A meeting was held with with local and tribal health departments, community organizations, and state agencies. This meeting introduced potential partners to the project, garnered input and feedback on the various components of the project, and worked to identify additional partners.  July 2021

 

Where we are going:

Activity Description Date

 

Research factors contributing to environmental health hazards in small public water systems

We will determine conditions that prevent access to safe drinking water from small community systems.

We will develop a workflow that provides intervention options. 

Will begin in late 2021

 

 

Inventory and evaluate public water data systems

We will inventory existing datasets, identify gaps, and prioritize improvements. 

We will develop and implement usability testing for existing data systems.

Will begin mid 2022

 

Call for and selection of partner interventions

We will plan, develop, and support projects to address environmental health hazards that affect Wisconsinites access to safe drinking water in small public systems providing mini-grants to multiple partners.  Mid 2022

 

 

Implement partner interventions


We will aid in implementing and evaluating interventions that reduce environmental health hazards in small public systems. 

Grantees will evaluate the usability of the workflow. 

Late 2022

 

Develop tools and resources on drinking water related topics. 

We will evaluate environmental health professional training needs.

We will develop trainings to fill these gaps.  

Will begin in mid 2022

 

Last Revised: November 12, 2021