Speak for Clean Water – Round 3-4
Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force to Hold Hearings June 12 and 13
The Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force, a bipartisan joint committee of both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature will be holding two public hearings this week to collect information and gather your input on the problems and solutions to Wisconsin’s water quality crisis. Too many homes in the state can’t drink the water from their tap and too many lakes and streams suffer from summer blooms of toxic algae and other problems from phosphorus, nitrates, and other contaminants in their waters. These hearings are an excellent opportunity for you to tell your story and call for legislators to put Wisconsin’s water first with real legislative solutions and not simple band-aids that fail to reach the root causes of these issues.
Hearings are slated to be held at Mauston High School on Wednesday, June 12 starting at 2:00 with invited speakers including Trout Unlimited, the Wisconsin Association of Professional Agricultural Consultants, conservation or health department staff from Juneau, Sauk, and Wood counties, the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association, and the Petenwell and Castle Rock Stewards. The general public will have the opportunity to speak around 4:30pm. (Please note these times were changed and are one hour later than originally announced)
The following day, Thursday, June 13, the committee will head to the Cleary Alumni and Friends Center on the campus of UW La Crosse and begin hearing invited testimony at 12:30pm, including the Wisconsin Rural Water Association, Midwest Environmental Advocates, geologists and hydrologists from Minnesota, representatives from La Crosse County, and Carbon Cycle Consulting. Public testimony is scheduled to begin around 3:00pm.
As was the case in previous hearings in Lancaster and Janesville, the public testimony will likely be limited to a few minutes each to accommodate all speakers. Future hearings are yet to be scheduled but will likely take place in Racine, Green Bay, Marinette, Stevens Point, Menomonie, Tomahawk, and Superior, though exact locations are subject to change, according to the committee.
The Speakers Task Force on Water Quality was created to gather information and make public policy recommendations to better asses and improve the quality of both surface water and groundwater in Wisconsin. Created by order of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the task force was asked to focus on identifying the best practices for soil mapping and data collection, determining the sources of contaminants, assessing runoff management, investigating remedies that will protect a healthy and stable supply of water, and exploring best practices for designing and constructing well and septic systems. More information about the task force can be found on their webpage.
Even though the focus of much of the discussion around these issues concentrates on clean drinking water, it’s crucial that the lake community is heard in this process. For one thing, clean drinking water is important to us all, and we should support those in our state that don’t have access to water to drink, cook with, or bathe in. But the problems plaguing our polluted lakes arise from many of the same places that pollute our drinking water, and this is a unique opportunity for lake property owners and those who care about our surface waters to tell their stories and call for lasting solutions focused on the big picture. Wisconsin deserves clean water flowing from its taps and in its waterbodies. Lending your voice can help make this happen.
Thinking about going to a hearing, but don’t know what to expect or how to testify? The River Alliance of Wisconsin created an excellent short video to help get you started.