Unfiltered: Wisconsin’s Drinking Water Crisis


A river of manure courses through rural Fennimore.

In Wisconsin, the water we drink is becoming increasingly poisonous.

Today – here in Wisconsin – whole communities are at risk for short-term and long-term consequences ranging from diarrhea to learning disabilities to infant death. It’s real and it’s happening now.

When you imagine those affected by toxic drinking water, what images spring to mind? Television news reports on Flint, Michigan? A dusty place across the globe? What sorts of faces appear? Are they the same color as yours? Are they kids or adults? Are they poor?

Imagine, instead, kids on a playground in Fond du Lac, Lake Mills, or Milwaukee and families living on or near farms in Kewaunee County. Imagine moms and dads driving to Algoma High School to get clean drinking water from the school to haul home for cooking and drinking. Imagine schools, churches, and faucets in urban cities and small town Wisconsin. The threat of toxic drinking water in our communities – and our homes – is real.

Courtesy flintwaterstudy.org

Aging infrastructure is leading to more corrosion of lead pipes.

It comes from lead pipes and farm pollution. It comes when industries pump too much water from the ground, exposing bedrock and releasing arsenic and radium. It even comes from human waste.

Learn more about lead in Wisconsin’s drinking water.

Elected officials in Wisconsin have for far too long ignored or contributed to this growing crisis. From the Department of Natural Resources’ budget to the legislature’s inaction on policies to protect drinking water.

In fact, a nonpartisan report this year found the DNR looked the other way 95 percent of the time as factory farms polluted our drinking water, in part because it was so understaffed.

02-20-2016 CR Dead Trout found

According to DNR records manure spills and fish kills are increasing in frequency and size.

And that’s just one of the many threats to clean drinking water. The people elected to office, as Wisconsin’s code of ethics states, must uphold the “highest moral principles” in their conduct. Yet, somehow, there are lawmakers who seem guided by an inexplicable set of principles in which poisoning a child with toxic water is of less consequence than losing a business contract.

Learn more about manure in Wisconsin’s drinking water.

As more families discover they can’t drink water from their taps, now is the time to take action.

Tell us your water story, weigh-in on policy, and join us in the movement to tell the unfiltered truth about Wisconsin’s drinking water crisis. Do you have problems with your drinking water? Email ryan@conservationvoters.org to share your story.