The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and the BlueGreen Alliance today were joined by officials from the Eau Claire City Council; La Crosse County Board; Wisconsin Conservation Voters; the United Association Union of Plumbers, Pipefitters, Welders, and Service Techs (UA); and Wisconsin Environment for a virtual press briefing on the need for federal investment to ensure all Wisconsinites have access to clean drinking water. The current condition of Wisconsin’s drinking water infrastructure represents a significant threat to the health and welfare of Wisconsinites from our largest urban centers to our most rural communities.
“We’re here today to focus on a vital piece of building back better—ensuring that every person in our state has access to clean, safe drinking water,” said Jeremy Gragert, Eau Claire resident and Wisconsin outreach consultant for the National Wildlife Federation. “Our leaders in Congress need to deliver for workers and communities in Wisconsin. They should pass both the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan to create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and ensure clean water for all.”
“These investments will deliver good, union jobs for workers, lift up struggling communities, make our country more equitable, and clean up our air and water so we leave a planet worth inheriting to future generations,” said Richard Diaz, Regional Field Organizer for the BlueGreen Alliance.
Federal funding included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and Build Back Better plan currently being debated in Congress would not only advance efforts to mitigate this risk, but create good jobs across the state repairing, replacing, and modernizing Wisconsin’s infrastructure. The local leaders noted the need for both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan, citing key priorities including funding to repair and modernize schools to ensure they are safe and healthy and full funding for lead service line replacement.
“There are over 1,200 members of UA Local 434 in Central and Western Wisconsin and we want to see a real investment in our communities to build back better,” said Greg Erickson Business Agent UA local 434. “Doing this work will create jobs for UA members—jobs we are trained to do the right way to ensure that taxpayers get the most out of their investment.”
The groups said voters do not want to wait. A survey conducted earlier this year in Wisconsin and five other key states found that Democratic, Republican, and independent voters overwhelmingly (90%) said repairing and modernizing the nation’s physical infrastructure and rebuilding and retooling American manufacturing and modernizing our factories to build products and technology in the United States is very or fairly important to them.
“Our children need safe drinking water—especially at school where they go to learn and play each day,” said Wisconsin Environment State Director Megan Severson. “Unfortunately, lead is contaminating drinking water at schools and pre-schools across the country. Lead service lines are the single largest source of this problem, and this bill, together with the bipartisan infrastructure package, would provide the investments needed to replace them all. Safe drinking water is vital to the health of our children; ensuring it should be a no-brainer for Congress.”
“No matter where you live in Wisconsin—or who you are—water is one of the strongest bonds you share with your neighbors,” said Wisconsin Conservation Voters Government Affairs Director Jennifer Giegerich. “Without clean drinking water, no community can thrive. We encourage voters to contact their representatives in Congress to support this robust and necessary investment in the health of our children and our communities to ensure everyone has access to clean, safe drinking water.