Updates on Wisconsin Water Issues, June 2019

Jun 28, 2019 | Agriculture, Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy | 1 comment

The Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force (WQTF) has been holding hearings across the state to gather information and learn from the public about water quality issues. 

We are pleased that leaders from both sides of the aisle are taking the time to learn about water quality issues impacting people around the state. 

At the hearings to date, the Task Force has learned a lot about polluted drinking water, rivers and lakes. They have been asked to step up and fund long-term solutions to solve Wisconsin’s water quality crisis. 

Your Role

If you haven’t yet participated, the Water Quality Task Force still needs to hear from you. We encourage you to share how water quality impacts your health, your finances, and your life. Collectively, with many voices, we must ensure the Task Force knows Wisconsinites want long-term solutions and that we will all hold them accountable if they advance short-term fixes instead.

In July, the Task Force will be in Racine, Tomahawk and Stevens Point. In August they will be in Green Bay, Marinette, Menomonie, and Superior.

Will you attend a public hearing near you to share your story?

Highlights from Hearings in Janesville, Mauston & La Crosse

Our thanks to everyone who has shared their stories at the hearings so far. Your messages were powerful and important. Below are highlights from the last three hearings and links to presentations and video coverage. 

Janesville (May 29th, 2019):

Dr. Henry Anderson, Retired, Wisconsin Division of Public Health

Rock County staff shared the results of testing private wells in their county. At this time, 4,000 of their 15,000 private wells are exceeding nitrate levels. TV news coverage of the hearing hits on this issue and also what local residents want- long term solutions. Rock County has created an interactive map to show nitrate risks to help homeowners make decisions about their drinking water. 

Many citizens shared their stories and requests for long-term solutions. Including Dr. Henry Anderson and Lynne Diebel.

Dr. Henry Anderson summed up a theme of the day when he said, “The focus needs to be on primary prevention. When deciding on actions to take, you need to ask, ‘Is that going to reduce the contaminant getting in the water?'”

In her testimony, Lynne Diebel (Friends of Bad FIsh Creek) emphasized that, “nutrient management (manure spreading) oversight needs to be improved, implemented and enforced. Fund the $12.4M for county conservationist, they are the boots on the ground.”

La Crosse Invited Speaker Presentations & News Coverage:

Mauston Hearing (June 12th, 2019)

The economic impact of water was one of the themes at this hearing. Duke Welter from Trout Unlimited Driftless Area Restoration Effort (DARE) spoke about the $1 Billion impact trout fishing has each year. Rick Georgeson from Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards (PACRS) shared stories from local business owners about how toxic blue-green algae has turned customers away. John Endrizzi, Town of Rome resident and 14-Mile Creek Watershed Committee member, shared that the Tri-Lakes communities in his county represent 27% of the county’s’ revenue. 

River Alliance filmed portions of this hearing (Wisconsin Eye was unable to attend). We have posted our footage so you can watch on YouTube. We recommend that you watch the presentations on your screen and use the YouTube file for the audio. 

Mauston Invited Speaker Presentations & Coverage: 

La Crosse (June 13th, 2019)

One of the stand outs from this hearing was the testimony from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They spoke about the need for citizens to have a new water ethic and think in new ways about water. They also shared the process they followed to invest in a Geologic Atlas, a set of maps and reports that show the distribution of rock, sediment and groundwater in each county. This tool is helping the Minnesota DNR plan and make management decisions. We also learned that Minnesota voters made a decision to charge themselves 4 cents for every ten dollars in sales tax to create a Clean Water Land and Legacy Fund. This sales tax is providing $250 million/year to fund clean water, outdoor heritage, parks and trails and arts and cultural heritage programs. 

La Crosse Invited Speaker Presentations & Coverage: 

Attend an Upcoming Hearing

  • To receive updates from River Alliance about the remaining Task Force hearings, please complete this quick form.
  • River Alliance will send you customized information & tips for taking part in a hearing near you!
  • Use the form to indicate if you’ll attend in Racine, Tomahawk or Stevens Point in July. Or, you can indicate if you’d like information to attend In August in Green Bay, Marinette, Menomonie, or Superior.