This detailed scientific report is definitely worth your time, given all the attention of late about water quality in Wisconsin and Michigan:
But more than differences in geography and chemistry drive the varied practices of Wisconsin’s public water utilities. Their actions also hinge on their financial and staff resources, local politics, differing attitudes toward science among the public and municipal leaders, and knowledge gaps about drinking water contaminants and their impacts on human health. One can gain some perspective on the discrepancies in how Wisconsin utilities treat drinking water through the ongoing tales of two contaminant types: pathogens and lead.
Disinfection Highlights Old Attitudes, Emerging Knowledge
Wisconsin doesn't require utilities to disinfect their water to eliminate pathogens, though federal regulations do require those using surface water to disinfect. In 2009, the DNR began promoting new state regulations to require universal disinfection, but Wisconsin's Republican-led state Legislature struck those rules down in 2011. The 56 municipal water utilities in Wisconsin that do not disinfect their water serve just more than 1 percent of the state's population, almost 65,000 people.
Most are small rural water utilities in northwest Wisconsin, covering only a few hundred people each. But this list does include some larger municipalities, like Rice Lake (about 8,300 people), likewise in the northwest portion of the state, and Kewaskum (about 4,000), north of the Milwaukee area. While most of these utilities are on record as conducting no water treatment at all, they're not all alike in their approach: A few have disinfected their water at points in the past, and some engage in other treatment processes, including fluoridation, corrosion control, and iron and manganese removal.The disinfection rollback noted on this blog five years ago:
Right now, about 12% of Wisconsin municipal systems do not continuously disinfect, says the DNR, which has had the nerve, along with the previous Legislature, of applyingscience to rule-making.
And The who-cares-what's-in-the-water coalition is looking for co-sponsors (note Erik Severson, a new State Rep. from Osceola, is a physician), while Harsdorf is on Joint Finance. There's you new GOP at work.
As they say in their legislative email:
DATE: January 27, 2011
TO: Legislative Colleagues
Representative Erik Severson
RE:Co-sponsorship of LRB-0937, relating to disinfection of municipal water supplies.
We will be introducing LRB-0937 which seeks to prohibit the (DNR) from mandating continuous disinfection of municipal water supplies.
Last summer, the DNR promulgated a rule that made several changes to state regulations relating to water. Some of these changes were required by the federal government; however, the DNR went beyond federal requirements in a provision relating to municipal water disinfection.
This change is a new mandate on municipalities requiring continuous disinfection of their . Approximately 70 municipalities across the state currently do not continuously disinfect their water and are impacted by this rule.
This mandate imposes a significant cost on municipalities. One community cited a price tag of $2.9 million for complying with this mandate, which is several times larger than the community’s annual budget.
Despite having a good record for providing a quality water supply, this municipality is facing a significant capital project to comply with the new DNR rule by December 2013.
This bill would prohibit the DNR from requiring municipal water systems to provide continuous disinfection, unless federal law requires continuous disinfection in the future.
If you would like to co-sponsor this legislation, please respond to this e-mail or call Sen. Harsdorf office at 6-7745 or Rep. Severson’s office at 7-2365 by February 9th.