Tips for Water Quality Task Force Hearings

May 1, 2019 | Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy | 1 comment


The first Water Quality Task Force public hearing will begin at 10:30 AM on May 8th at the Youth & Ag Building Auditorium, 916 E Elm St. Lancaster, WI.

We encourage you to attend to let the task force know:

  • All Wisconsinites have a right to clean water.
  • There is no better investment than our water. The state budget must address our serious water issues.
  • We need to prevent water pollution, not just address short-term issues. Short-term, Band-Aid fixes are not acceptable.

Recipe for Successful Testimony:

  1. Prepare: Take a moment to think through & write out your talking points for your three minutes.
  2. Personalize: Be sure to include your personal story AND a possible solution (see real examples below) to the problem.
  3. Practice: Tell a family member, coworker or friend what you plan to share.
  4. Present: Be calm, respectful and concise in your testimony, you’ll only have a few minutes to make an impression.
  5. Punctuality: When you arrive at the hearing you will fill out a slip of paper to get on the list to speak. The task force will likely call on speakers in the order they arrive. (Note, they are beginning at 10:30 AM with invited speakers, which may go for about 2 hours before the public statements begin)

Note: If you are asked a question you don’t know the answer to, it’s ok to say, “I will look into that and follow up with more information.”

Suggestions for Specific Water Quality Solutions

Your personal story is the most important part of your testimony. However, if it also important to have solutions to propose to the task force. Here are a few recommendations on three top water quality issues in Wisconsin.

Nonpoint

  • Runoff from farm fields and management of manure is a major contributor to water quality issues related to phosphorus, nitrates, and other pollutants in both drinking and surface waters.  As a first step in solving this issue, Wisconsin’s current standards for runoff management must be fully implemented AND enforced. To accomplish this, we need:
    • To fully fund county staff to handle the implementation of the state standards for runoff management.
    • To provide resources to farmers through incentives such as tax credits (for example, the Farmland Preservation program) and other means to afford the implementation of best management practices.
    • To provide verification, most likely through county staff, that performance standards are being properly implemented.
    • To review the effectiveness of the current standards and, where needed, expand them, as was recently done in certain sensitive areas of the state.
    • State budget asks:
      • $12.4 million to provide baseline funding for county conservation staffing.
      • $10 million in bonding authority for the Soil and Water Resource Management (SWRM) program at the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. (SWRM provides farmers with financial assistance to reduce nonpoint pollution with infrastructure projects.)

Lead

  • More than 80 communities across the state have dangerous lead pipes in their water systems. No level of lead is safe. Kids are especially vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead.
  • Communities deserve the opportunity to get rid of this public health threat. Good, bipartisan legislation, SB 48, exists and can help achieve this, but the final version was knee-capped. It limited matching funds for local governments to 50 percent.
  • Repeal the limits on SB 48 and on communities doing their best to protect their residents – especially their kids.
  • State budget ask: Restore $40 million in bonding for the replacement of up to 50 percent of the cost to replace lead service lines through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program. It is estimated that there are 170,000 lead service lines in Wisconsin. The lead service line program would be structured as a forgivable loan.

Emerging (PFAs, etc.)

  • PFAs (pronounced “p-fahs”) are human-made chemicals, also called “forever chemicals” because they do not degrade in the environment. They are very common and very toxic to human health. Health effects can include cancer, impaired liver function, fertility and pregnancy issues, and more.
  • PFAs have been detected in drinking water in Wisconsin, including wells in Madison and Marinette. It is only a matter of time before more Wisconsin communities discover toxic PFAs in their drinking water.
  • We must create a rapid response system to protect public health from emerging water contaminants like PFAs in Wisconsin. Act 21 has lengthened the timeline for DNR to be taking action through rule-making.
  • State budget ask: Provide funding to increase scientific research staff positions to develop a model to identify and prioritize sites with likely per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination and also fund a survey of local and state emergency responders to determine the level of use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.

Take Action Today!

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

 

Past River Alliance Water Quality Task Force Blog Posts:

https://www.wisconsinrivers.org/updates-on-wi-water-4/#respond

https://www.wisconsinrivers.org/water-quality-task-force-hearings-update/

https://www.wisconsinrivers.org/updates-on-wi-water-2/