Gov. Tony Evers called for more clean drinking water measures Wednesday, including funding to address contaminated wells and a new drinking-water study in three southwest Wisconsin counties where nearly half of wells recently were found to be contaminated.
Evers said in a statement his proposal for the next state budget will allocate $2 million in funding — a $1.6 million increase — for a state program that helps replace, rebuild or treat contaminated private wells. The Well Compensation Grant Program gives funding to eligible landowners or renters to address wells that serve a residence or livestock.
It will provide a new option for families below an income threshold that permits the Department of Natural Resources to pay as much as 100 percent of costs up to $16,000 to replace or treat contaminated wells.
Evers also said he directed the state Department of Natural Resources to spend $75,000 in the next budget cycle on a study to evaluate drinking water safety in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties.
A study released last month found 42 percent of randomly selected wells surveyed in those three counties were contaminated, failing to meet federal standards for bacteria that can come from animal or human waste, or for a toxic fertilizer residue.
The announcement came after Evers revealed earlier this week that he will propose in his budget allowing the state to borrow nearly $70 million more over the next two years to combat water pollution and replace lead pipes.