NEWS RELEASE Sen. Cowles at 800-334-1465,FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Sen. Farrow at 608-266-9174 or January 24, 2014 Rep. Loudenbeck at 888-529-0031
Cowles, Farrow & Loudenbeck to Offer Clean Waters, Healthy Economy Act
Goal to Lower Phosphorus Levels, Save Ratepayer Dollars, Strengthen Economy
MADISON – Facing impending deadlines that will force municipal water utilities and Wisconsin businesses to spend billions of dollars on costly filtration upgrades, Sens. Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) and Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) announced today they are introducing the Clean Waters, Healthy Economy Act. This new reform measure will offer an alternative, more cost-effective means of reducing phosphorus in our waters while lowering costs to water utility ratepayers and potentially saving thousands of Wisconsin manufacturing jobs.
“Our goal in introducing this legislation is to clean up our valuable waterways by greatly reducing their phosphorus content while still being mindful of water utility ratepayers and Wisconsin manufacturers’ need to remain competitive in a global marketplace,” Cowles said.
The Clean Waters, Healthy Economy Act will offer a new compliance option in addition to the existing options in order for water utilities and manufacturers to meet Wisconsin’s strict phosphorus discharge standards. The bill leaves existing phosphorus standards intact and does not repeal or suspend the existing water quality standards.
“We can attain overall reduction in phosphorus in our water by allowing the multi-discharger variance concept to be utilized in Wisconsin,” said Loudenbeck. “For many point sources, providing monetary support for nonpoint reductions in phosphorus is the best way to achieve the overarching goal of protecting our waterways.”
The new option offered under the bill will allow water utilities and manufacturers to provide significant monetary support for reductions in agricultural phosphorus discharges, which constitutes a majority of phosphorus in our waters. This new option will require approval by the federal Environmental Protection Agency before it can be offered to dischargers in Wisconsin.
“I’m excited by the large coalition of parties that came together to craft legislation that offers additional compliance options for Wisconsin businesses and water utilities,” said Farrow. “As I’ve always said, we need to strike a balance between business interests and the environment and this bill goes a long way towards that goal.”