MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ water pollution task force is set to release its recommendations to the Legislature on Wednesday after a year of work.
The task force’s chairman, Republican state Rep. Todd Novak, scheduled a late-morning news conference in the state Capitol to announce the panel’s findings.
Not to be outdone, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers released a report less than an hour before the news conference was slated to begin touting his administration’s efforts to reduce pollution. Evers declared 2019 the “Year of Clean Drinking Water” when he came into office in January last year.
The report notes that the state Department of Natural Resources, an Evers cabinet agency, started crafting restrictions on manure and fertilizer in areas prone to groundwater pollution in December. The governor signed an executive order in August requiring the DNR and state agriculture officials to develop an action plan to reduce pollution from chemicals in firefighting foam known as PFAS, and requiring the DNR to develop regulatory standards for the chemicals, the report added. The DNR also is working on educating people about the dangers of lead pipes and developing a new loan forgiveness program for replacing them, the report added.
“Tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin are afraid to turn on their tap to drink water,” Evers said in the report. “That is unacceptable, and we must fix it.”
Vos created the task force in January 2019 after a study found wells across southwestern Wisconsin were contaminated with bacteria or nitrates, which originates from manure and fertilizer.
The task force is made up of 12 Republican and four Democratic legislators.
Democrats removed Rep. Staush Gruszynski from the panel in December after he was accused of sexually harassing a legislative employee. They replaced him with Rep. Gary Hebl.
Democrats have stripped Gruszynski, who is in his first term, of all his committee assignments and have demanded he resign. He has not stepped down but faces re-election in November along with every other member of the Assembly.