Wisconsin Conservationist: Don't Take Clean Tap Water for Granted
MADISON, Wis. – Looking back on 2016, one of Wisconsin's leading conservationists says some of the best things that happened were proposed laws that didn't pass.
The State Legislature debated a number of bills that would have directly impacted a huge number of Wisconsinites, but pushback from citizens was a major factor in stopping the bills.
"There were a number of pieces of legislation in the Wisconsin Legislature that, frankly, were really bad for conservation and for people in Wisconsin, and some of them were just stopped,” stresses Kerry Schumann, executive director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. “Some of the worst pieces of legislation – like privatizing our drinking water system, for example – were just stopped in the Legislature."
Schumann says it's come to the point that Wisconsinites can no longer take clean tap water for granted.
Citing Department of Natural Resources records, she says manure spills and fish kills are increasing in frequency and size in the state, and aging infrastructure is leading to more corrosion in the lead pipes that carry water to homes.
Schumann maintains too often, regulators look the other way when giant factory farms draw down the water table to dangerous levels in central Wisconsin, and pollute streams and rivers with their runoff.
These are not partisan issues, she says, but things that Wisconsinites are concerned about, whether they're a Democrat or a Republican.
"They want safe drinking water, they want places to hunt and hike and fish, they want to know that their well isn't going to run dry,” she states. “Those are fundamental things that everybody in this state regardless of their political party cares about and needs to survive."
Looking ahead to 2017, Schumann says the state's political leaders need to "act like their constituents," and set party differences aside to ensure that our state's natural resources are carefully managed.
"As taxpayers we should feel totally comfortable that our drinking water is safe,” she states. “This is going to have to be something that is prioritized in the state – taking care of things like manure and lead and other contaminants that are in our water."