Updates on Wisconsin Water Issues, April 2019

Apr 18, 2019 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy | 1 comment

Over the next few months the Water Quality Task Force will hold public hearings across the state. You can attend to share your concerns related to water issues in your community.

Here’s How You Can Take Part

  • Plan to attend a Water Quality Task Force hearing near you. 
  • At the hearing, let the Task Force know which water quality issues are impacting you and your community.
  • Complete this quick form & River Alliance will send you customized information & tips for taking part in a hearing near you.

Together we can emphasize that new solutions are urgently needed to protect and invest in our water wealth for future generations. The first public hearing will take place in Lancaster on May 8th

The tentative locations for the Water Quality Task Force public hearings are:
Green Bay, Janesville, Lancaster, LaCrosse, Marinette, Mauston, Menomonie, Racine, Stevens Point, Superior, and Tomahawk. Use this form to be notified when there are details about the hearing near you!

Helpful Background Information

The second informational hearing for the Water Quality Task Force was held on April 3rd. The invited speakers included representatives from: Clean Wisconsin, Water Quality Association, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Wisconsin Farmers Union and Wisconsin Land + Water.

At the April 3rd hearing, many groups emphasized the need to address long-term solutions to the root causes to Wisconsin’s water pollution problems. For example, Matt Krueger, Wisconsin Land & Water’s executive director shared, “We are at the most critical juncture on water quality that we have seen in decades, and we collectively owe it to the people of Wisconsin to use this opportunity to advance real, lasting solutions.”

The themes of suggested solutions included increased research, increased funding, and more agency staff to address current and emerging water quality problems across the state.

There was also support for the Governor’s budget items that address water quality.

(Note: The first informational hearing of the Water Quality Task Force took place on March 20th in Madison. Staff from four state agencies were invited to give presentations to explain the basics about surface and groundwater systems, current and emerging water quality problems and recommendations to solve these problems. Read our summary.)

Recap of April 3rd Informational Hearing

Below is a summary of recommendations made by groups who spoke at the informational hearing.

Agricultural Recommendations:

  • Expand NR 151 changes to additional sensitive areas, such as the driftless area
  • Restoring local control of livestock siting, allowing areas with sensitive groundwater and geologic factors to adopt more stringent livestock siting standards
  • Fully fund cost-share to assist more farmers with implementing additional nonpoint source pollution practices
  • Ban winter manure spreading
  • Increase CAFO fees
  • Fully fund DATCP county conservation staffing and support grants at a baseline of $12.4 million annually
  • Support famer-led councils at $750,000 per year
  • Provide adequate financial support to groundwater mapping, outreach, and education. Add 1 FTE ($150,000-$200,000) at the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey to update groundwater maps. Provide $2.5 million/year for county-by-county groundwater mapping
  • Farmland Preservation Tax Credit tie use value assessment, which helps farmers manage their tax burden, to the implementation of conservation practices

Emerging Contaminants Response:

  • Shorten the process for creating health protections when new contaminants are identified
  • Set standards for classes of chemicals, like PFAS
  • Support for the Governor’s budget proposal of two DNR science staff positions that will support and inform our state’s response to PFAS contamination. 

Recommendations on Resolving Lead Issues:

  • Support $40 million in the Governor’s budget to replace lead laterals
  • Ensure all childcares and schools are lead free
  • Repeal limits on loans or grant amounts for lead lateral replacements

Take Action Today!

Use this form to be notified when there are details about the hearing near you. Watch our bloge-newsletter and social media for more information on the dates and times for these hearings. 

Additional Water Quality Task Force Hearing Materials (from 4-3-2019):