By Mike Leischner
STEVENS POINT, WI (WSAU) — Wisconsin residents that have been waiting for help replacing or remediating their private water wells have relief in their sights.
Governor Tony Evers and State Representative Katrina Shankland spent Tuesday touring the state to announce a new $10 million grant pool to help expand eligibility for a statewide program that until now had only been open to an exclusive club.
“This program is meant to help people with contaminated, private wells get access to clean water,” said Shankland. “But, the eligibility requirements are so stringent that only about a half-dozen people a year get access to it.”
She was able to work with Governor Tony Evers to set aside funds from the state’s share of ARPA dollars to help expand that pool. Now she expects that thousands will be eligible to get money to help make sure they can access clean, useable water whenever they turn on their faucets in their homes. That means anyone with issues such as nitrates, arsenic, bacteria, and any other level of contamination deemed hazardous under federal health standards can get a hand in solving that issue. “People who need to repair, replace, reconstruct, treat, or abandon their water or wells can get access for up to $16,000, depending on what they are doing, so they can drink water from their taps,” said Shankland.
The Wisconsin DNR estimates that over 1,030 people, small businesses, Churches, and others who rely on well water will be able to take advantage of the expanded program.
Shankland adds that expanding access to clean water for those who aren’t hooked up to a municipal system has been a priority for her since she was first elected. Her seven previous attempts either failed to get out of the legislature or were removed during the budgeting process.
The application process for the grant program will open this fall More information can be found on the Department of Natural Resources website here. Individuals interested in receiving notifications about the program can sign up here.
Shankland adds that Tuesday’s tour, which also included stops in Chippewa Falls and Oconto, was a bit of a victory lap for her, she will not consider her work on clean water to be finished just yet. She is also working with the Governor and others to see that money from the bipartisan infrastructure bill and other resources are spent to help residents get rid of lead service lines and PFAS contamination as well.