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MADISON — More than 95 percent of Wisconsin’s water suppliers meet or exceed health standards and the state’s public water systems continue to make upgrades through a loan program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, according to a new report.
The DNR 2014 report to the governor, Wisconsin’s Capacity Development Program for Public Drinking Water Systems, highlights the performance of municipal community water systems that serve nearly 4 million people. Over the three year period covered by the report, from 2011 to 2013, municipal community water systems invested a total of $134.9 million in upgrades.
“Clean drinking water is fundamental to the health and well-being of our citizens and communities,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “We are pleased to support the continuing reinvestment that contributes to such strong performance.”
During the past three years, DNR made loans for 93 improvement projects in communities ranging from Abbotsford to Wrightstown. Among the largest projects: a $20.7 million loan to Marinette; an $11 million loan to Stevens Point; and a $7.8 million loan to Milwaukee.
Wisconsin uses money from its federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund allotment to make low-interest loans and provide principal forgiveness for infrastructure improvements at eligible municipal community systems. Since the program began in 1998, approximately $488 million has been provided for projects.
Wisconsin’s public water systems also continue to build on their ability to meet regulatory requirements. Significant deficiencies (such as those that could cause health risks for people consuming the water) identified during regular inspections need to be corrected by specific deadlines. Over the past four years, the state’s public water systems have consistently improved their ability to make corrections before the deadlines and more than 80 percent met the deadlines in 2013.
“With 11,400 public water systems statewide, DNR monitors more systems than any other state and the level of compliance is exemplary,” said Russ Rasmussen, DNR water division administrator. “Wisconsin’s public water systems have an excellent track record for consistently providing safe drinking water. Our capacity development strategy continues to benefit residents statewide.”
By definition, public water systems are those that provide water for human consumption to at least 15 service connections, or regularly serve at least 25 people. Municipal community water systems are owned by cities, villages, towns or sanitary districts and Wisconsin currently has 608 of these suppliers.
Other types of regulated public water systems operate from privately-owned wells and serve residents of mobile home parks, apartment buildings, condominium complexes and long-term care facilities. Public water systems also serve water to people where they work, attend school or gather for food or entertainment.
For more on the 2014 report on Wisconsin’s Capacity Development Program for Public Drinking Water Systems, visit dnr.wi.gov and search for “capacity development.”