State News

Republican bill aims to ensure clean drinking water for Wisconsinites

If a well of a septic tank is found to contain bacteria or E. coli, residents must buy bottled water until their wells once again have clean water.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

In an effort to ensure all Wisconsin citizens have access to clean drinking water, two Republican legislators introduced a bill Monday that would provide more resources for residents who have contaminated wells or damaged septic tanks.

State Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, and co-sponsor state Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, want to expand the amount of grant money available for subsidizing costs of purifying drinking water from $9,000 to $12,000. The subsidy would also be used to connect wells to public water supplies and to repair or abandon wells.

The bill would also enable districts to provide low- or no-interest loans to owners of contaminated wells in order to recover costs through special charges or tax assessments, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Researchers found that 30 percent of wells in Wisconsin tested positive for E. coli and other forms of bacteria. E. coli can cause severe—and sometimes fatal—food poisoning.

Kewaunee and Door Counties, the districts Kitchens represents, have struggled with contaminated groundwater.

Vulnerable drinking water has challenged other parts of Wisconsin as well. Last week, Emerald Sky Dairy farm in Emerald, Wis., experienced a “massive” manure spill of tens of thousands of gallons of manure, according to Kim Dupre, a neighbor of Emerald Sky Dairy and member of Emerald Clean Water for All.

The manure water was found in a stormwater pond, possibly contaminating the farm's neighbors' drinking water. 

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