Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law a bill that raises the amount of the money granted by the state’s well compensation grant program, to reimburse indigent property owners to reconstruct, treat, or abandon/cap a contaminated well or connect to a public water supply, from $9,000 to $12,000.
The bill also allows local units of government to pay for contaminated well remediation or abandonment with the ability to recoup the costs through a special assessment or charge to the property owner. It also allows local units of governments the flexibility to make low or no-interest loans.
Authored by state Sen. Rob Cowles, R-Green Bay, and Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, the “Clean Water Access Bill” passed the Senate on a voice vote and was concurred by the Assembly on a voice vote. It is Act 69.
“This crucial piece of legislation will provide relief to families across Wisconsin and access to clean water, a basic right most of us take for granted,” Kitchens said in a statement after the bill signing. “The water contamination issues plaguing Northeast Wisconsin have no simple fix, but this bill provides vital and immediate assistance to those affected today.”
“Access to clean drinking water is vital to human health, and today’s bill signing provides hope to those who don’t have easy access to clean drinking water,” Cowles said. “The Clean Water Access Bill is not a cure-all silver bullet, but assistance in replacing failing septic tanks and contaminated wells is an important step forward for the residents of Northeast Wisconsin.”
The two lawmakers said the signing of Act 69 into law will complement the DNR’s revisions on Administrative Rule NR 151 and DATCP’s revisions on ATCP 50 in addressing the underlying problem of water contamination in Northeast Wisconsin. The Clean Water Access Bill was supported by local governments and health departments, farmers, and conservation groups.