By Nyesha Stone
Earlier this year, Gov. Tony Evers named 2019 the “Year of Clean Drinking Water.” To do this, he said that $40 million would be used to replace lead pipes, $25 million to clean-up five areas in the Milwaukee River, and additional funding would be used to keep our water clean.
Evers is keeping his promise to clean the water and recently announced the passage of two resolutions: The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers PFAS Strategy Coordination Resolution and Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers Protecting Against Drinking Water Contaminants Resolution, which are designed to protect Wisconsin’s drinking water from toxic chemicals.
The resolutions would address lead service lines that may contribute the high amount of lead in drinking water and PFAS (per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances), an emerging hazard known as a “forever chemicals” because the compounds take thousands of years to degrade, according to a press release.
As the Chair of the 2019 Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers’ Leadership Summit, Evers said he is doing his best to ensure every Wisconsinite has the access to clean and safe drinking water.
“We strongly believe that a strong environment translates into a strong economy, and that includes clean, safe water for every citizen to consume and enjoy. Unfortunately, clean water is not something available to all Wisconsinites,” Evers said.
According to the Great Lakes Commission, the Great Lakes hold 90 percent of the United States’ supply of fresh surface water, so it’s vital to take steps to ensure the water is clean and stays clean.
The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers PFAS Strategy Coordination Resolution focuses on PFAS—chemicals found in household products such as clothing, cooking pots, and pans, rugs and carpets as well as firefighting foams, which can lead to several health issues including liver damage and birth defects.
There are concerns about the increase in PFAS in Wisconsin, with high levels of groundwater and soil contamination found in Marinette, Wisconsin where firefighting foam products were used.
Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers Protecting Against Drinking Water Contaminants Resolution addresses lead service lines (pipes). These pipes contribute 50-75 percent of the total lead measured in tap water within homes. According to a study, there are approximately 240,000 lead service lines across Wisconsin.
According to a press release, tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin are afraid to turn on their tap to drink water. “That is unacceptable, and we must fix it,” Gov. Evers said. “Ensuring safe and reliable drinking water is not only fundamental to the health of our communities, but it is also a public health priority.”