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Wisconsin Grassroots Group Demands Better State Water Policy

A grassroots Wisconsin citizens group is demanding responsible water policy. (Clean Wisconsin)
A grassroots Wisconsin citizens group is demanding responsible water policy. (Clean Wisconsin)
February 8, 2017

BAYFIELD, Wis. – Calling it a first of its kind in state history, several diverse groups of citizens from Northern and Central Wisconsin will make their way to Madison Wednesday for what they're calling a Citizens Water Lobby Day.

They are concerned about pollution from the burgeoning number of huge factory farms in Wisconsin, and about the effect of high-capacity wells on local water tables.

Mary Dougherty, president of the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network, says legislators could adequately fund the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and ask the agency to do a really robust job of protecting the state's water resources.

"They are choosing not to," she said. "So yes, citizens are demanding that our elected officials listen to us and do what we're asking. We're not asking for water policy that hurts industry, we're asking for responsible water policy that leaves enough on the table for all of us, industry and citizens."

The idea for the Citizens Water Lobby Day was born when an anonymous donor provided six charter buses to take people from the central and northern parts of the state to Madison. The attendees will meet with their state representatives, and then gather for a strategy session to move the group forward.

Dougherty says they're a true citizens group, not lobbyists, not representing any one particular organization. Rather than organize a mass e-mail or phone campaign, she thinks a personal approach will be more effective.

"The only thing we're asking is that the citizens write their story down on a piece of paper that tells the reason why they decided to get on a bus on a Wednesday morning to get to Madison, take time out of their busy week to show up and ask for responsible water policy," she explained.

Dougherty says this is just the beginning of their presence at the Capitol, and she's hoping the group will attract support from citizens all across the state.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI