Rep. Shankland Introduces Clean Water Legislation

By: Logan Wenger, WSAU News 

MADISON, WI (WSAU) -- State Representative Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) recently introduced what she's calling "Clean Water Legislation". The bill would provide $100,000 annually for the DNR to administer private well testing in a grant program working with local governments. 

Rep. Shankland says she's talked to many people affected by unclean drinking water in the state.

"Unfortunately they either have to buy bottled water at the store or pay to get a reverse osmosis filter or get a new well dug. Really, its a big problem for people who live in the rural areas who can't afford to dig a new well or the cost of bottled water is also, every year, a big cost for them," said Shankland.

Rep. Shankland says there is a Well Compensation Grant program in place right now, but says there's problems with that program.

She said, "But right now there's some, what I'd call, arbitrary restrictions in place. The rule in Wisconsin right now is if you have nitrate contamination about 40, which is 4 times the recommended maximum standards for nitrates, you have to own livestock in order to be eligible for state assistance."

Shankland says because the bill already has bipartisan support, the next step is for a public hearing in the house and senate. She's hoping to get people from all around the state to come to the capital and testify on behalf of the bill.

According to a 2013 study, 47% of private wells are contaminated at levels above health standards in Wisconsin.

The DNR suggests that homeowners test their well at least once at year. Rep. Shankland says some are unaware that their well needs testing or cannot afford it.