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Gov. Evers Budget Includes Additional Water Quality Funding
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/14/2019

Governor Tony Evers announced two additional water quality initiatives that he hopes will expand upon his goal to make 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water in Wisconsin. The governor's budget proposal allocates $2 million in funding for the Well Compensation Grant Program, which provides funding to eligible landowners or renters to replace, reconstruct or treat contaminated private water supplies that serve homes or water for livestock. The most contaminated wells will be prioritized to receive funding.

In addition, the governor's budget will provide a new economic hardship cost share option for families that make less than the median income. Under this option, the Department of Natural Resources would pay 100-percent of costs up to $16,000, with the owner of the well only charged a $250 deductible.

"Contaminated water poses harm to rural and urban residents, impacting public drinking water systems, private wells, schools, daycares, and businesses," Evers said. "A scientific approach is critical to first understand the breadth of Wisconsin's water quality problem, and how it impacts different communities so that we can successfully implement the best solutions."

Meanwhile, the governor also directed the DNR to spend $75,000 in this biennium for the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology study, a broad survey that will evaluate the safety of drinking water in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette Counties.

The county land conservation departments from the three counties are funding a portion of the study which is being conducted by the UW Extension and researchers from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the USDA. The first sample of tests from the study is already showing that 42 percent of 301 wells tested in the three counties did not meet standards for bacteria or nitrates.

Last year, a separate study in Wood and Juneau counties found 42 percent of the 104 wells tested exceeded the standard for nitrates.

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