Thursday, January 28, 2016

Can Scott Walker be trusted to fix Wisconsin's water crisis?

Walker and GOP set to privatize water, removing control from the public's hands

The Flint Water Crisis has been on my mind lately. A lot. 

Thousands of citizens were poisoned with lead-contaminated water, which is no laughing matter. Lead exposure can make victims prone to aggressive behavior, memory loss, anemia, headaches, abdominal pain, and other troubling symptoms

For children, it’s worse. Because the body is still developing, a child exposed to lead can expect to have lower IQs, hearing problems, growth delays, and problems with learning in the short- and long-term. 

Flint, Michigan may seem far away from us, but Wisconsin is facing its own water crisis, dealing mainly with arsenic levels being too high. From the Appleton Post Crescent:
[Arsenic] levels above the federal standard have been detected in 51 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, according to a 2006 Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council report.

The most serious health effects from arsenic exposure include a variety of cancers, nerve damage, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Chronic low-level exposure during childhood has also been linked to decreased intelligence.
With only 16 percent of homes in Wisconsin actually testing their private well water annually, it’s more than likely that some residents in the state are exposing themselves to arsenic levels far beyond acceptable levels.

But whether it’s lead or arsenic, Gov. Scott Walker says that fears of our drinking water being exposed to harsh contaminants shouldn’t be overstated. According to him, he’s got this covered. From WPR (emphasis in bold added):
“Part of our capital budget and bonding in the past has been specifically to help communities and local utilities deal with [remaining lead pipes],” Walker said. ...

Meanwhile, Walker said his administration continues to respond to drinking water concerns in Kewaunee County that might be related to manure runoff. ...

Walker said Friday that the DNR is already working on a plan.

“Is it runoff? Is it other issues? Is it the depth of the wells? Just because of the soil base in both Kewaunee and parts of Door County?” he asked.

Walker promises a science-based plan that is appropriate to protect the health and safety of the local residents.
That last bit in bold has me troubled the most. When has Walker ever backed anything that is science-based? His own administration is currently looking for ways to get out of the federal climate change plan, and he’s been evasive in the past when it comes to questions about evolution. He even wanted to cut funding for state recycling plans (twice). When it comes to science, Walker isn’t the go-to person to depend on.

We can’t even rely on Walker’s DNR to reply to open records requests properly. What makes him think we’re going to trust his administration to deal with Wisconsin’s own water crisis?

Walker and his legislative allies are hardly inspiring confidence with their latest political stunt, either. From James Rowen at the Political Environment:
The corporate-obeisant GOP-controlled Wisconsin State Senate is poised tomorrow to join the Assembly's shameful initiative and enable local governments to sell their water systems to out-of-state, private-sector businesses, proving that Bucky has learned nothing from Flint's water travails, and the consequences of losing control of its drinking water system and supply and flushing it down the drain.
I’m fortunate enough to live in Dane County, where the dedication towards providing quality public water is unparalleled compared to the rest of the state. Many other parts of the nation looks to Madison on how to deal with aging lead pipe problems (the city replaced “every single known lead service pipe in the city” over the last decade).

The rest of the state isn’t so lucky. They receive lip service from a governor who isn’t too preoccupied with the crisis, and a plan from Republican lawmakers that will remove control of water from the public’s hands. But that’s just how things goes in Scott Walker’s Wisconsin.


  1. Walker and his Republican legislators care nothing for our water nor the well being of our citizens. They are only interested in selling or giving away anything in Wisconsin if it will generate money coming into their campaign war chests. They do not legislate nor govern for people....they focus on corporation and special interest well being as that's where the money is!!!!

  2. Sounds like a good time for an Open Records Request to Gov. Walker and the DNR asking for any requests from Walker to the DNR (and Vos/Fitz/August) who are responsible for funding approval) telling the DNR (and Vos/Fitz/August) (1) that he wants to see a science-based plan to protect the health and safety of local community residents, (2) the date by which Walker wants the plan on his desk, and (3) any and all communication between those 3 GOPS and Aqua America (and their lobbyists, by name). Then, public the results.

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