Saturday , 25 February 2017

February 3, 2016 E-News

CONCERNS RAISED ABOUT BILL ALLOWING PURCHASE OF MUNICIPAL WATER SYSTEMS – A bill quickly moving through the Legislature that would ease restrictions on the private purchase of municipal water systems is being pushed by a Pennsylvania company whose aggressive growth strategy has resulted in nearly 200 acquisitions in the last decade. Aqua America Inc. operates water systems in eight states, including Illinois. The company is now eyeing Wisconsin — a potential market where virtually all water and sewer systems are owned and operated by municipalities. The proposal could chip away at public ownership of water and sewer utilities by lowering legal barriers to private ownership. The measure passed the Assembly by voice vote on Jan. 12 — normally a sign the legislation is not controversial — and now goes to the full Senate. But after quick passage of AB 554 in the Assembly, opposition from environmental and some municipal utility groups emerged.

WISCONSIN’S PUBLIC SECTOR IS LEANER THAN MOST OTHER STATES – The number of public employees in Wisconsin has fallen over time, and current levels of public employment are significantly lower than they were a decade ago, according to a Wisconsin Budget Project analysis of newly-released figures. Wisconsin has 4.4% fewer state and local government employees per capita than the national average. Wisconsin ranks 39thin the number of government workers per population. Having fewer government employees means that Wisconsin governments spend less on public payrolls. For each person that lived in the state, Wisconsin spent 7.1 % less than the national average on public payrolls. Another reason public payroll costs in Wisconsin are low is that public employees in Wisconsin earn less than the national average. The payroll per employee in Wisconsin was 2.9% below the national average.

MILWAUKEE FACES DAUNTING COSTS WITH LEAD WATER PIPES – The City of Milwaukee and 70,000 residential property owners are facing total costs of $511 million or more to remove all lead pipes delivering drinking water to those homes, and eliminate the risk of contaminating tap water with the toxic metal. In the interim, the Milwaukee Water Works has canceled 5 miles of water main replacement projects scheduled this year in older residential neighborhoods where lead pipes connect municipal mains to around 500 homes. The projects are “on pause,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said, while public works and health officials plan how they will work with property owners to remove the lead service laterals throughout the city. Tests of tap water required by federal drinking water regulations confirm city water is safe to drink, records show.

YEARS BEFORE FLINT’S SCANDAL, MADISON DID UNUSUAL, COSTLY LEAD PIPE FIX – Fifteen years before lead contamination of a Michigan city’s drinking water became a public health crisis, Madison was on its way to eliminating its worst risks through a costly effort that replaced more than 8,000 lead water pipes. There are cheaper ways to meet federal standards, but none as effective, said the consultant whose work helped drive the effort. “Wherever there is a lead pipe in any city, it should be replaced,” said Abigail Cantor, an independent consultant whose tests on old pipes sparked the city’s 11-year, $15.5 million effort to replace every lead pipe in the water system. Madison is believed to be the only community in the country to have taken such a radical step.

WISCONSIN STILL WORKING TO COMPLY WITH FEDERAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT RULES – Officials with the state Department of Natural Resources said they have now addressed two-thirds of the water pollution concerns raised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly five years ago. The EPA letter in July 2011, identified 75 deficiencies in Wisconsin’s administration of the federal water pollution permit program. The DNR Board has just passed wastewater discharge rules that DNR officials said address 21 of the concerns. DNR staffer Adrian Stocks said the total number of issues resolved is now 51. “It does show we’re on a path to improve water quality in general because of the fact that it does align our codes with what is required under the federal Clean Water Act,” he said.

SHAWANO REALTOR TAPPED TO HEAD WISCONSIN’S NATURAL RESOURCES BOARD – A Shawano realtor has been tapped to head Wisconsin’s Natural Resources Board, which sets environmental policy for the DNR. At a Jan. 27 board meeting in Madison, Terry Hilgenberg was named chair. Board members are appointed to six-year terms by the governor with the advice and consent of the Wisconsin Senate. Hilgenberg was first appointed to the board May 1, 2011 and his term expires May 1, 2017.

WISCONSIN SEWER SURVEY DEADLINE EXTENDED – For the past 20 years, MSA Professional Services, Inc. has been compiling comprehensive data on the true cost of sewer service in Wisconsin. The data collected in this study allows officials to educate the public on the cost of providing clean and safe water, and how your sewer rates compare to other communities. MSA is about half way to their survey response goal for the 2016 Wisconsin Sewer User Charge Survey.  In order to accomplish the goal, the deadline to complete the survey has been extended to Friday, February 5, 2016. All survey respondents will receive a free download of the 2016 report available in May. Thanks again for your assistance, and please feel free to call Tom Fitzwilliams at 608-355-8864 if you have any questions. The survey only takes few minutes to complete, you can do so at

MUNICIPAL UTILITIES LEGISLATIVE DAY – Register to attend this year’s Municipal Utilities Legislative Day held Wednesday, Feb. 17 in Madison to learn how you can make a difference. Join us for this collaborative effort provided by MEUW, WPPI Energy, Wisconsin Rural Water Association (WRWA), Municipal Environmental Group (MEG) Water and Wastewater Divisions and the Wisconsin Water Association (AWWA) to learn more about hot topics and legislation affecting municipal utilities. The day will consist of a legislative briefing and panel of speakers located at The Monona Terrace. You’ll also have a chance after lunch to connect with legislators and help them understand how their decisions directly impact your community. There is no cost to attend this event, deadline to register is Feb. 8, 2016 and you can register at

QUOTE – “When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I’m beginning to believe it.”   Clarence Darrow

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

FergusonWaterworks Cedar Corporation (Logo)

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


David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

Comments are closed.