WMC Opposes Lead Pipes Bill
Business lobbyist opposes loans to homeowners to replace pipes.
The state’s largest business group says it opposes bipartisan bills that would help Wisconsin residents get rid of lead water pipes, which can contaminate people’s drinking water.
The measures, Assembly Bill 78 and Senate Bill 48, sponsored by GOP Sen. Rob Cowles, of Green Bay, and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, of Fond du Lac, would allow local water utilities to make grants or cheap loans to help homeowners remove lead water service pipes from the curb to their homes. Currently, state law allows water utilities to only replace pipes from the street to a homeowner’s property line. The average cost to replace a water pipe between a curb and a house is about $3,600.
WMC, which is the only special interest group on record opposing the bills, is a political heavyweight when it comes to state policy and spending. The group has spent more than $18 million since 2010 on undisclosed, outside electioneering activities to support Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates. But because of the power of WMC, the bills may not get to the floor. Lucas Webber, WMC’s director of environmental energy policy testified against them. He is the former policy director and deputy chief of staff for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
The bills have drawn support from about four dozen Democratic and Republican legislators, and from about 20 lobbying groups representing public health officials, medical professionals, environmental groups, cities, and the real estate industry.
As reporter Steve Verburg wrote in the Wisconsin State Journal, the dangers of lead in the water are extreme. “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says there is no safe blood lead level in children. Tiny lead particles that flake off into running water can accumulate in the body to cause irreversible brain damage to young children.”
The presence of lead in drinking water has been known for decades, but awareness increased across the country in 2015 due to a public health crisis in Flint, Mich. caused by high lead levels in the city’s drinking water system.
More about the Lead Service Lines
- One Step Closer to Tackling Wisconsin’s Lead Crisis - State Sen. Chris Larson - Oct 31st, 2017
- Advocates Push City On Lead Pipes - Jabril Faraj - Oct 25th, 2017
- Lead Poisoning a “Public Health Crisis” - Jabril Faraj - Jul 19th, 2017
- National Water Expert Retracts Criticism of City Health Department - City of Milwaukee Health Department - Jul 14th, 2017
- Governor Walker Announces 35 Municipalities to Receive a Total of $13.8 Million to Remove Lead Service Lines - Gov. Scott Walker - Jun 28th, 2017
- Campaign Cash: WMC Opposes Lead Pipes Bill - Wisconsin Democracy Campaign - Apr 20th, 2017
- Op Ed: State Action Needed on Lead Pipes Problem - Chris Walker - Mar 12th, 2017
- Murphy’s Law: How Milwaukee Handled “Flint” Crisis - Bruce Murphy - Jan 19th, 2017
- Tainted Water: State’s Failures On Lead Pipes - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Jan 15th, 2017
- Tainted Water: Lax Rules Expose Kids To Lead-Tainted Water - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Program Replaces Lead Laterals - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Approves Help For Lead Pipes - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 13th, 2016
- Tainted Water: DNR Delays on Lead Poisoning Issue - Cara Lombardo and Dee J. Hall - Dec 4th, 2016