By Dylan Deprey
In the past year Milwaukee has taken their drinking water a little more serious after witnessing the acidic bile colored liquid pouring from faucets in Flint, MI. The major health risks of lead leaking into drinking water are astronomical for children and childbearing women. People have asked for action at the community, city, state and federal levels for help in Wisconsin, and there has been a ray of hope in the U.S. Senate.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was ecstatic after hearing the 94th “yea” for the passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 (WRDA) in the U.S. Senate. Sen. Baldwin had authored multiple reforms in the WDRA as well as championed multiple investments. The WRDA strives to keep water as clean and healthy as possible.
“I’ve heard from Wisconsinites who are calling for stronger investments to meet this challenge and I have worked in the Senate to advance bipartisan solutions,” Sen. Baldwin said.
The WDRA incorporates Steps at Every Level Being Made in the Fight for Healthy Drinking Water Sen. Baldwin’s Water Technology Acceleration Act, which was introduced to Congress back in March 2016. As the name entails, the Act was meant to accelerate the development and deployment of water technologies as an aid to fight the major issues involving water: lead safety, phosphorous reduction and treatment of bacteria and nitrates. This would also create a federal position to accelerate testing and commercialization of water safety technologies.
Senator Baldwin’s Made in America Water Infrastructure Act was also added as a reform to the Act. As Milwaukee houses 70,000 of the roughly 140,000 lead lateral pipes buried underneath Wisconsin homes, this reform ensures quality drinking water for American families that is carried through high-quality pipes manufactured right in the United States at the highest standards.
While the Federal government has made steps improving drinking water, the City of Milwaukee has been listening to the community as well as organizations like the Freshwater for Life Action Coalition (FLAC).
The first meeting of the recently created Water Quality Task Force was on Sept. 16. The Task Force was created to investigate and make recommendations to make improvements for a longstanding and safe drinking water. The Task Force is lead by Alderman James Bohl.
“The question of how to deal with lead in water service lines and interior plumbing is a very serious one, and warrants a very thorough, open and transparent approach,” Ald. Bohl said, “This task force will make sure that no stone is unturned in pursuit of a timely and realistic solution for these concerns.”
Some are skeptical of the Water Quality Task Force. In Kingfishmke. com author Chris Johnson ‘s column, “Water Quality Task Force Is Woefully Lacking Independence,” he stated that there should be health and scientific officials on the Task Force.
“Once again, leading national drinking water experts like Dr. Marc Edwards have stated that they would not drink water that comes from lead pipes yet some of the people recently appointed to this task force have known about this for years and not done what every scientific study proves as the only solution to stop lead poisoning in drinking water and that is to remove lead lateral pipes from homes,” Johnson said.
Although water and lead pipes will be the forefront for policymakers for years to come, Sen. Baldwin’s commitment shows through her reforms and the passing of the WRDA.
“Communities in Wisconsin and across the United States are committed to providing safe drinking water for families and their children, but we need to invest in rebuilding our water infrastructure,” Sen. Baldwin said.