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Rep. Novak: Water Quality Task Force Kicks Off in Madison

Clean water is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it is a State of Wisconsin issue. This is the mindset I asked my fellow committee members to adopt as we began our inaugural Water Quality Task Force hearing at the State Capitol in Madison on March 20th. Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of quality ground and surface water. Our residents rely on this resource as a pillar of both our economy, through agriculture and tourism, and our health, through clean drinking water. It is our responsibility as legislators to work together and identify the ways we can ensure this valuable resource is preserved for the benefit of our state.

Our mission began with an inaugural informational hearing at the State Capitol in Madison. The committee heard from water experts at the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the Department of Health Services. Each department presented an excellent overview of their role in maintaining clean, safe drinking water for residents of our state.

First, the DNR outlined each water quality concern ranging from lead, nitrates, and bacterial contaminates, to algal blooms and our aging public water infrastructure. Being aware of every challenge, no matter how small, is imperative to making progress. Next, DATCP discussed how their organization plays a role in groundwater monitoring and fertilizer oversight to assist landowners in the protection of our water resources. Through programs like the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant, a group of five or more farmers can receive incentive payments to experiment with conservation practices. Finally, DHS contributed key information on how each contaminant affects our health and their research on emerging contaminates.

To conclude our hearing, Ken Bradbury, State Geologist and Director of the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey established the link between Wisconsin’s geology and water quality. Much of Ken’s research is focused on ground water quality, and he will be a vital asset to our committee going forward.

I cannot stress enough how important neutrality and fairness is to integrity of this process. By relying on experts and focusing on data, not politics, I believe we can be successful. To ensure this, Ken and representatives from DATCP and DNR plan to attend many of our hearings around the state and provide their expertise. Each hearing will include ample time for the public to give input. At the conclusion of our hearings, the committee will release a report along with policy recommendations to bring before the legislature.

Following our second informational hearing on April 3 in Madison, we will begin our tour of the state. I am excited to get to work on such an important issue and I encourage you to attend one of our hearings. To stay up to date on the committee’s proceedings, please visit waterqualitywi.com