Water defines Wisconsin. From the mighty Mississippi to the Great Lakes, from small streams and ponds, to rushing rivers and grand lakeshores, from wells and kitchen faucets in rural and urban communities to the drinking glasses of children across the state, Wisconsin’s water is invaluable. We must fight to protect our water from polluters, achieve safe drinking water for all, and ensure our lakes and rivers are safe for fishing and swimming.

Nearly 100,000 homes have wells contaminated with nitrates.

Priority Campaign

Protecting drinking water

Imagine waking up to make coffee, turning on your faucet and watching as brown, foul-smelling liquid comes pouring into your sink, onto your hands, and into your child’s water cup. It’s like something from a horror movie. It’s real and it’s happening now.


“The air, the water, the land – it belongs to all of us, and legislators need to be held accountable.”

hunter. angler. voter.

Gene Ecklor, Elkhart Lake


As factory farms have increased in size and number in Wisconsin, manure has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of families, leaving entire communities at risk from health problems ranging from diarrhea to learning disabilities to infant death. In response, last year, Wisconsin Conservation Voters kicked off its campaign for stronger manure rules called NR 151. Working with partner groups, we recruited 310 citizens from across the state to speak out at Conservation Lobby Day.

After that, we engaged citizens through public hearings, online petitions and actions, a telephone town hall, and events and education. Throughout, we kept a constant drumbeat on the worst polluters, including the powerful Dairy Business Association (DBA). Because conservation voters like you came out strong for new manure spreading rules, the DBA and other polluters withdrew their opposition, and the DNR Board passed the rules unanimously.


Related Content

Wisconsin State Journal: Hazardous drinking water found in 42% of southwest Wisconsin wells

Steven Verburg reports on the shocking (but not unexpected) preliminary results of water quality testing in southwest Wisconsin.


Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's Failure at the Faucet project

In an award-winning project called Failure at the Faucet the center shined an unprecedented spotlight on the drinking water crisis in Wisconsin. Their reporting covers the gamut of drinking water threats in Wisconsin including manure, chemicals, and lead.


Local groups (once again) stand up to mining threats

Local groups came together to protect the Willow River from metallic sulfide mining. Wisconsin Conservation Voters worked with our friends at River Alliance of Wisconsin to support the efforts. Read their story of the fight to protect the Willow.