The final report of the Speaker's Task Force on Water Quality was delivered to my office this week. The bipartisan, bicameral committee was created following a request from Reps. Todd Novak and Travis Tranel who were concerned with water in their area. The task force held 14 public hearings around the state last year. Members heard testimony from more than 70 stakeholder groups and hundreds of citizens. The report contained comprehensive recommendations, including 13 pieces of legislation that will be considered in the Assembly over the next few months.
I want to thank the members of the task force for taking part in this unprecedented, bipartisan effort for clean water in Wisconsin. This package of bills begins to address the problems today and provides the foundation for future innovations.
The legislation creates a new state office of water quality, establishes funding for research, provides assistance to farmers to implement conservation practices, supports our county conservation departments, and creates additional tools for mapping and public education. The recommendations also address emerging contaminates and kick start the development of new programs in the UW System to equip our workforce with the unique skills needed to tackle our water quality challenges.
It’s clear we can’t just throw money at these issues, thinking they’ll immediately go away. Wisconsin needs a long-term strategy to protect, preserve and promote clean water. These bills are a first step toward that goal.
Like the task force, our efforts to improve water quality will only be successful through collaboration and cooperation without politics getting in the way.