Editors' Note: the following is a guest column submitted to DrydenWire.com from Senator Patty Schachtner.
The cleanliness of our drinking water, lakes, and rivers is critical to the future health and prosperity of our state. Every Wisconsinite should have access to safe, clean water to drink, cook, bathe, and play.
Yet right now in our state clean water is at risk- and for many people, clean water is no longer a reality. In many communities PFAS, the so-called “forever chemical”, have infiltrated drinking water, and lakes and streams. Fecal matter, bacteria, viruses, and run-off chemicals are leaking into both municipal water systems and private rural wells. A 2019 study found that 42 percent of sampled wells in southwest Wisconsin contained contaminants that exceeded federal health standards.
Over many years, the State of Wisconsin has compromised the quality of our water and the results of that lack of prioritization is clear. But clean water is actually a worthwhile investment. The United Nations World Health Organization estimates that for every $1 spent on clean water, we could see at least a $3 return. Clean water supports a strong economy, ensures continued tourism, and protects the health of our workforce, neighbors, and loved ones.
Thankfully, Governor Tony Evers and his administration have worked to again prioritize this necessary natural resource. The State Assembly also created a Task Force on Water Quality that held hearings around the state and developed a list of legislation to support cleaner water across the state. These bills have the support of Democrats and Republicans alike and our local governments have been asking for these critical laws to be passed. Yet, we’re still waiting.
Though these bills already passed the Assembly, Senate leadership still refuses to prioritize clean water and hold a vote to advance this legislation. My colleagues and I are more than ready to hold a vote and begin to finally protect our state’s greatest natural resource again. I will continue to push this conversation forward next session so that we can take real, necessary action.
Clean water is essential to healthy communities, our economy, and our Wisconsin way of life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: clean water is a health issue. It is an economic issue. It is a moral issue. Clean water is not something we can afford to compromise.
State Senator Patty Schachtner proudly represents Wisconsin’s tenth senate district with 178,250 constituents. The district covers parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix counties.