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“Leading on Lead” Bill’s Signing Means Progress for Public Health

But More Action Needed to Get Lead Out of Drinking Water
For Immediate Release

MADISON – Governor Walker today signed the “Leading on Lead” bill, legislation to allow water utilities to help pay for removal of lead service lines – the top source of lead contamination of drinking water. It was introduced last year by Senator Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) with bipartisan support.

“Wisconsin’s kids deserve safe drinking water, free of lead that puts their development at risk,” said Peter Skopec, WISPIRG Director. “Facilitating the removal of lead service lines is the biggest single step decisionmakers can take right now to protect our children from lead-laced water. To be sure, this is an important win for public health – but more action is needed.”

Municipal governments will now be allowed to work with water utilities and the Public Service Commission to develop financial assistance programs to help remove lead service lines in their communities. Lead service lines are the pipes leading from the water main in the street to homes, daycares, or schools. There are more than 176,000 lead service lines spread across Wisconsin, but state law has so far prevented water utilities from fully replacing them.

“Protecting children from lead exposure will require committed, long-term action at every level of government,” added Skopec. “Enacting this legislation is an important step in the right direction. We’re grateful to the bill’s many bipartisan sponsors and supporters, and to Governor Walker for signing it into law. And most of all, we’d like to thank the hundreds of healthcare professionals and the thousands of Wisconsinites who weighed in and urged action.” 

Lead exposure can irreversibly affect how children learn, grow, and behave. Medical and public health experts agree that no level of exposure is safe for kids. WISPIRG staff collected hundreds of petition signatures from concerned Wisconsinites and delivered a letter in support of SB48 signed by 130 healthcare professionals to the legislature in 2017.

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The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG) is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in democratic society.

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