MADISON– Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) released the following statement in response to Senator Chris Larson’s (D-Milwaukee) comments regarding the problems and proposed solution of state funding to remove lead laterals in Milwaukee and the subsequent fact check by PolitiFact Wisconsin:
“My legislative efforts speak for themselves when it comes to the issue of clean drinking water. Just one example is the Leading on Lead Act (2017 Wisconsin Act 137), an innovative funding mechanism to allow local governments and their water utilities to offer loans or grants of up to 50% to homeowners to help remediate their lead lateral. With approvals by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC), five communities have already begun the process of removing their lead laterals under the Leading on Lead Act, including Green Bay, Kaukauna, Kenosha, Manitowoc and Menasha, and three more communities are actively seeking approval by the PSC, including Fond du Lac, Sheboygan and Sun Prairie.
“While the scope of the lead lateral problem in our state is substantial, and the costs, both human and economic, that are felt from lead laden water are large, options do exist to help begin the process of removing lead laterals throughout our state. The City of Green Bay proved this by using three different funding sources, including the Leading on Lead Act, to complete their lead lateral removals earlier this year. It’s fair to ask why the residents of Green Bay, who are paying for this monumental achievement in their own backyard, should be paying for efforts in other communities that weren’t as proactive.
“Further and more importantly, it’s necessary to ask why the City of Milwaukee hasn’t pursued a Leading on Lead Act plan of their own before the city government and legislators from this area insist that statewide taxpayers fork-over funding. The Leading on Lead Act has worked and is working in Wisconsin. While this program works best when combined with other funding sources like the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act or Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act or the state’s Safe Drinking Water Act Loan Program, the Leading on Lead Act is an option that needs to be explored as a solution by Milwaukee and other communities with lead problems.”