Republican members of both legislative houses have pushed a bill for discussion that would effectively repeal a rule that requires municipal governments to disinfect drinking water.
The Department of Natural Resources law that went into effect Dec. 1 requires all local governments to go through certain steps to ensure the area’s water is safe for the public.
State Rep. Bob Ziegelbauer, I-Manitowoc, said the rule needed to be repealed because it only aids a small number of Wisconsinites, but all are forced to pay for its costs.
“I can tell you a couple of villages in my district have been very extensively impacted by a rule that is a one size fits all rule,” Ziegelbauer, one of the bill’s endorsers, said. “Their drinking water is perfectly safe – they monitor it, and this new requirement would require them to put in some very expensive unnecessary equipment.”
Ziegelbauer said the rule imposes heavy responsibilities on taxpayers in the villages that already regulate their water.
He also criticized the bill’s ability to let state government dictate what local governments can and cannot do.
“[Repealing the rule] is a way to let local government do what local governments want and have the state government stay out of it,” Ziegelbauer said. “It’s a matter of allowing local government to meet its responsibilities to the people who live right there in their villages.”
The way the rule is currently written, all villages have to follow the same regulations for installing equipment, and there are no exceptions written into the rule, Ziegelbauer said.
Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, said repealing the rule would cause serious harm to the quality of drinking water throughout the state.
Hulsey said a study done by Wisconsin-based Marshfield Clinic found a large number of Madison area wells have viruses in them from fecal matter, meaning the sewage system is leaking into the drinking water. He said the DNR rule forces all communities to clear their water from such viruses.
He also said the study proved there was a higher portion of diarrhea cases in communities that did not disinfect their water than those that did.
“[The study’s results] is why this rule makes sense, and to say we don’t have enough money to make our drinking water clean is crazy,” Hulsey said. “What, are we a third-world country”?
The repeal was referred to a Senate committee for consideration.