Saturday , 18 November 2017

April 12, 2017 E-News

WISCONSIN SENATE OKS HIGH-CAP WELL BILL – The state Senate has approved a Republican bill that would relax high-capacity well regulations. The Senate voted 19-13 to approve the bill during a rare morning session Wednesday. The body was poised to vote Tuesday but Democrats used a procedural move to delay the vote until Wednesday morning. The bill would exempt well repairs, replacements, reconstructions and ownership transfers from state oversight. The bill also calls for the Department of Natural Resources to study lakes and streams in the central sands region to determine whether special measures are needed to protect ground and surface water from depletion. Conservationists fear the bill will protect problem wells and help deplete state waters. Republicans say farmers who need high-capacity wells for irrigation deserve regulatory certainty.

REPORT SHOWS HIGH-CAPACITY WELLS AFFECT LITTLE PLOVER RIVER – A now completed report confirms what researchers revealed last year: high-capacity wells in the Central Sands region of the state are affecting the water flow in the Little Plover River. The Class 1 trout stream — which begins near Plover and flows into the Wisconsin River — has dried up several times, starting in 2005. One of the report’s authors, state geologist Ken Bradbury said the river’s problems are tied to an increase in high-capacity wells. “It never went dry as far as anyone knows prior to the late 2000s,” Bradbury said. “Really the only and most obvious reason for that is the large number of high-capacity wells that are nearby and in that watershed now that weren’t there in the past.” There were just 120 high-capacity wells in the Central Sands region in the 60s. There are more than 2,800 now, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

BILL TAKES AIM AT COSTS OF HAZARDOUS DRINKING WATER – Republican lawmakers want to increase state grant money and local financing available to provide clean drinking water to users of contaminated wells and fix septic systems. Assembly Bill 226 was introduced and sent to the Assembly environment and forestry committee Monday. Lead sponsor Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, represents a district covering places in Kewaunee and Door counties where ground water is particularly vulnerable to pollution. AB 226 would increase the cap on state grants to about $12,000 from the current limit of $9,000 to subsidize costs of purifying drinking water, connecting to a public water supplies and well repair, abandonment and replacement. It also would allow a city, village, town, or county to work with the owners of a contaminated well or failing private wastewater treatment systems to repair or fill, seal and replace them, with the option of offering low- or no-interest loans to the owners, and to recover costs through special charges or tax assessments.

LA CROSSE COUNTY WARNS OF NITRATES IN TOWN OF ONALASKA, HOLLAND WELL WATER – Private well owners in the western half of the towns of Onalaska and Holland are being urged to test their water after the La Crosse County Health Department discovered worrisome levels of nitrates and bacteria in much of the water supply. More than 2,000 residents received notices by mail last week alerting them to the problem, discussed during a press conference Thursday afternoon at the La Crosse County Administrative Center. “This is the first time we have been able to identify with enough data that we do have a problem in our county,” said Jen Rombalski, director of the La Crosse County Health Department.

ROAD SALT CONTAMINATION IN LAKES WIDESPREAD – A new study indicates road salt is causing more widespread contamination in lakes than previously thought. Scientists working for the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network have studied 370 freshwater lakes. Most of the lakes are in 10 northern states, including Wisconsin. Comparing data now, to historical records, the study concludes most water bodies have seen a big jump in salt levels, or salinization. University of Wisconsin-Madison Limnology researcher Hilary Dugan said road salt is the main culprit, even salt that was spread years before. “The thing about road salt is that once it’s applied to the landscape, there’s really nothing that’s going to remove it, and so it can sit in soil for a long time, and as soon as there’s any type of rain, it gets washed off into the local stream and lakes,” Dugan said. Dugan said the study shows in the Madison area, the concentration of chloride in Lake Mendota is about 25 times what it was a century ago.

MICHIGAN CONGRESSMAN RE-INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN AND UPDATE LEAD AND COPPER RULE – Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today re-introduced comprehensive legislation that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) within nine months. The LCR, which is supposed to be updated regularly, has not been updated by the EPA since 1991. His legislation, H.R. 1974, would update outdated federal safeguards regarding the action level for lead in water, drinking water testing, replacing lead service lines and educating Americans on the effects of lead. The NO LEAD Act would lower the action level of lead permitted in drinking water from its current level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb by 2020, and 5 ppb by 2026.

NEARLY 80 GREAT LAKES CAUCUS LEGISLATORS URGE FULL FUNDING FOR THE GREAT LAKES RESTORATION INITIATIVE – This week, nearly 80 members of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus (GLLC), a non-partisan, binational group of legislators from eight Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces dedicated to protecting the Great Lakes, submitted a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to restore the $300 million dollars in annual funding authorized by Congress for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Co-signers of the caucus letter include legislators from all Great Lakes states and Québec, and both Democrats and Republicans. The GLLC has strongly supported the GLRI since its inception. Eliminating the GLRI, as proposed by President Trump’s Budget Blueprint, will do lasting damage to environmental protection and economic development in the Great Lakes region.

26TH WATER SUPPLY REGULATORY AFFAIRS SEMINAR – Don’t miss this annual event that is hosted cooperatively with WRWA, MEG-Water, AWWA, DNR and PSC on May 4th in Madison WI. This year’s seminar includes PSC Commissioner Mike Huebsch, PSC Regulatory Update, Clean Wisconsin’s High Capacity Well Permit Litigation, Kewaunee County Task Force, Alan Roberson- Association of State Drinking Water Administrators, DNR Update, Construction Authorization: Lessons Learned, and Lead Service Line Ordinances Panel Discussion. For a copy of the agenda and registration information go to

MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT AND UTILITY DAY IN MADISON – All Wisconsin city & village officials and staff are invited to participate in a half day of advocacy and networking in Madison on May 10. The League of Wisconsin Municipalities is teaming up this year with several other municipal organizations, including Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Rural Water Association, MEG — Water, and MEG — Wastewater for the first ever Municipal Government and Utility Day at the state capitol. The focus of the day will be on the critical role that municipal infrastructure plays in growing the state’s economy. There is no cost for municipal officials and staff to attend the luncheon or to participate in any aspect of the Municipal Government and Utility Day at the State Capitol.For more information and to register go to

QUOTE – “The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them.” – Frank A. Clark

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David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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