Governor Tony Evers recently celebrated President Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill that will expand efforts to provide clean drinking water to Wisconsinites by injecting roughly $ 850 million into communities across the state over the past five years. coming years.
Last month, Governor Evers hailed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as a “victory for Wisconsin.” The federal bill contains an array of expanded programs with substantial new sources of funding for Wisconsin, including $ 142,703,000 for the 2022 allocation to state revolving loan programs funding water infrastructure projects. Biparty Infrastructure Bill is the largest investment in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in U.S. history, providing clean water to millions of families across the country , including Wisconsin.
“Clean water is critically important to keeping our children, families and communities healthy and safe. People should be able to trust the water that comes out of their taps, which is why making sure every Wisconsinite has access to safe, clean drinking water has been a top priority for my administration, ”said Governor Evers. “Whether it’s tackling contaminants like nitrates or ‘eternal chemicals’ like PFAS or replacing lead pipes, the bipartisan infrastructure bill will allow us to continue the important work we are doing. have done to improve the water quality in our state. “
Governor Evers declared 2019 the Year of Drinking Water to promote the importance of ensuring every Wisconsinite has access to safe and clean drinking water. The new federal funding will help address three priority safety issues for Wisconsinites drinking water, including PFAS, lead and nitrates.
The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that Wisconsin will receive $ 347 million in drinking water and $ 522 million in revolving loan funds for drinking water over the next five years. This funding includes a minimum of $ 95 million in grants to tackle emerging contaminants such as PFAS and $ 255 million to replace lead service lines.
PFAS are human-made chemicals that can be found in a variety of products, including non-stick cookware, fast food packaging, stain spray, and some types of fire-fighting foam. These permanent chemicals can accumulate, travel through the soil, enter groundwater, or be carried in the air. PFAS are known to present several health risks, such as certain types of cancer, heart problems, and developmental delays.
Nitrates are the most common groundwater contaminant in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council. Nitrate contamination of groundwater is increasing in extent and severity across the state. Today, nitrates are at worrying levels in 74 public drinking water systems, and it is estimated that more than 10 percent of private wells have high levels of nitrates.
Meanwhile, more than 170,000 main service lines in Wisconsin need to be replaced. Lead service lines can leach lead into drinking water, causing serious health problems, including brain damage in young children.
From rural towns to cities, the legislation also authorizes the United States Environmental Protection Agency to provide additional grants on a competitive basis for water infrastructure projects in disadvantaged communities, including low-income neighborhoods, communities of less than 10,000 residents and communities that would otherwise be unable to fund water supply projects necessary to comply with federal water quality regulations.
The bill also provides $ 1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a program launched in 2010 to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes, to accelerate environmental progress in Lake Michigan and the lake. Superior, including reduction of nutrient and toxic pollution in the St. Louis River, Lower Green Bay and Fox River, Sheboygan River and Port and Estuary Areas of Milwaukee. Funding allocations for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative projects in Wisconsin have not been announced.