Wednesday , 18 October 2017

February 15, 2017 E-News

LAWMAKERS: RURAL WISCONSIN PATIENTLY WAITING FOR HELP – People in rural parts of Wisconsin can’t wait any longer for faster internet access, more health care providers and better jobs, a group of Republican lawmakers said Tuesday. Members of the Rural Wisconsin Initiative held a news conference to present their plans for improving life in rural Wisconsin and retaining young people who are choosing big cities over small towns. “It’s high time that our rural areas and our small towns had our attention,” said freshman Rep. Ron Tusler, of Harrison. Residents of these areas “are waiting without rioting, without yelling in somebody’s ear. They’re waiting patiently for us to focus on the issues that they have.” The group proposed a bill that would allocate $15.5 million in broadband grants to underserved rural areas. Almost a quarter of Wisconsinites live in rural areas, and around 40 percent don’t have broadband, or high-speed internet access, at home. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Romaine Quinn and Sen. Howard Marklein, directs the Public Service Commission to prioritize areas not already benefiting from federal grants.

LA CROSSE COUNTY TO CONSIDER PREMIER RESORT AREA SALES TAX – Voters in La Crosse County will have the chance this April to weigh in on a proposed sales tax that would be added to certain businesses in the area. It’s called the “premier resort area tax,” and it’s been put to use in other parts of Wisconsin that attract lots of tourists. The PRAT tax would add a 0.5% sales tax to businesses that attract tourists, like hotels, gift shops, and amusement parks. The reason behind it is to help fund infrastructure needs on county trunk roads. “People use our roads but aren’t necessarily paying for them, especially if the way that the county pays for roads is on the backs of the property taxpayers,” said Tara Johnson, La Crosse County Board Chair. “So we’ve been trying for a long time at La Crosse County to figure out a new solution, a different way to pay for roads.” Everyone would have to pay the sales tax, not just visitors. The La Crosse County Highway Department says the tax could provide more than $6 million a year.

DNR MAGAZINE CUT SEEN AS LATEST CLIMATE SCIENCE SCRUB – Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to do away with the subscriber-supported Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine fits a pattern that included suppressing articles on climate science and endangered species that started after Republicans took over state government, the magazine’s former editor said Monday. Meanwhile, two former Department of Natural Resources secretaries said eliminating the magazine would undermine volunteer conservation groups and public understanding of DNR programs in ways that will harm the environment over time. The bimonthly magazine would be shuttered as part of Walker’s 2017-19 state budget plan. One reason the proposal is drawing criticism is that it wouldn’t save any tax dollars. The nearly 100-year-old publication is supported entirely by its 88,000 subscribers. Spokesmen for Walker and for the DNR on Monday defended the proposal by saying the DNR must become more efficient and narrowly focused, and government shouldn’t be in the publishing business.

FLINT RESIDENTS TO GET WATER FILTERS 3 MORE YEARS – The state of Michigan plans to provide Flint residents with water filters and replacement cartridges for about three more years amid the city’s crisis with lead-tainted water. The Flint Journal reports the timeline was noted in a letter to a Flint official from Richard Baird, a senior adviser to Gov. Rick Snyder. The letter also gave the city notice that credits to ease the cost of Flint water bills will stop at the end of this month. The filters and replacement cartridges will be provided as officials work to replace lead pipes and some other water service lines throughout Flint. The letter also said the state would continue to provide access to bottled water. The city is looking to replace service lines at 6,000 homes this year.

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR WATER PIPES HAVE LEAD – Lead lines still run throughout Wisconsin, affecting 40 percent of homes in some cities. Local water utilities have replaced lead pipes in the water mains that run beneath streets over the years, but at least 200,000 offshoots from those mains still are made of lead in Wisconsin, experts say. Homes built before 1950 are most likely to have lead laterals, which can be identified where they connect to the home by the dull gray color, ability to be scratched with a key and lack of magnetism. That can include the public-side pipe from the water main to the curb and the private-side pipe from the curb to the house’s water meter. The following is a rundown of how many lead pipes remain in some of Wisconsin’s largest cities — and how you can find out if your home has them.

EMERGING GROUNDWATER ISSUES IN THE DRINKING WATER INDUSTRY – This 2017 seminar is packed with some of the top award winning groundwater Hydrogeologists, professors, engineers, scientists and legal experts in our state talking about groundwater issues that are happening right now in our state drinking water supplies. All in one day, one place, for you, for your personnel and anyone interested in emerging groundwater issues in the drinking water industry. It is co-hosted by WIAWWA and WRWA and is being held on February 22 at the WRWA Technology Center in Plover, WI. For information and to register, go to

QUOTES – “Winter is nature’s way of saying, “Up yours.” (Robert Byrne), “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!” (Robin Williams)

“This week’s issue of the Rural Water E-News is sponsored by the following WRWA Corporate Gold Members and Businesses:”

“For information on WRWA Corporate Gold member benefits and other advertising opportunities, contact Renee at”

David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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