Wednesday was water quality day at the state Capitol, as Republicans in the state Legislature unveiled the report of the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers released his final report on “2019: The Year of Water Quality.”

The task force report announces legislative initiatives that emerged from a series of public hearings around the state, including at least one proposal Kewaunee County residents and officials advocated during the Aug. 28 hearing in Green Bay.

The task force recommends increasing state funding for county land and water conservation staff by $2.961 million for fiscal year 2020-21, which begins July 1. That would bring the total annual commitment to $12.4 million.

The state provides at least $75,000 to each county for conservation staff. As available, remaining funding is allocated to provide for 100 percent funding of a county’s first staff position, 70 percent of a second position, and 50 percent for each thereafter, with counties paying the difference. The recommendation would sweeten the pot of available funding.

Other recommendations would increase the well compensation grant fund by $1 million to help homeowners who need to replace, rebuild or treat contaminated wells, and would create a pilot program to address nitrate contamination.

They are among 13 legislative proposals that the task force’s news release described as “an unprecedented, bipartisan effort to address water quality issues and ensure clean water for future generations.” The full report can be found at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/committees/assembly/STF-WQ/task-force-report/

Evers’ report is more of an overview of initiatives taken administratively during 2019 to address issues of nitrates, lead and PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water.

Those measures include starting the process of developing specific performance standards in areas of the state susceptible to nitrate contamination under NR 151, the administrative rule that governs manure spreading over sensitive geological areas like Kewaunee County’s Silurian dolomite.

That effort is one of four acknowledged by the Speaker’s Task Force in its report. The others are proposed rule revisions to the livestock facility siting law, an executive order relating to measures to abate and prevent lead exposure, and an executive order creating a PFAS coordinating council to address the public health risk from PFAS.

The Evers report can be found at this link.