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Rep. Rob Stafsholt says “no” to DNR threat to turn off Wilson’s water

WILSON — Representative Rob Stafsholt attended the Village of Wilson meeting on Sunday, October 8th to discuss the progress he had made to ensure the Village of Wilson’s water supply would not be turned off by the DNR. 

The Village of Wilson has one employee, and that employee needs to be certified to complete the Village’s Electronic Monthly Report (EMOR). Wilson recently had a staff change and the new employee was not yet certified but agreed to do so as soon as possible as part of his employment. A Notice of Non-Compliance was sent to the Village of Wilson during this transition time, and before there was a test offered for the new employee to take to become certified. DNR staff told the Village that they may turn off the water supply to the residents and businesses of Wilson.

Village President Dennis Cowan contacted Rep. Stafsholt about the problem to see if there was anything that could be done. Stafsholt, in his first term in the Assembly for District 29, went right to the top of the WI-DNR and met with Kurt Thiede who is the Deputy Secretary of the DNR. The result was an email that Rep. Stafsholt shared with the Wilson Board Sunday night stating in one section, in bold print, “Bottom line – There is no threat that we will “shut off their water”. And we will continue to work with them to get the necessary certifications and approvals.”

Rep. Stafsholt commented on Kurt Thiede, “Kurt has been great to work with the past few months, on this issue as well as several others. It is fantastic to be able to contact him with an issue and get timely, professional interactions towards reaching solutions to these issues as they come up.”

The email from Thiede to Stafsholt went on to say the DNR would work with Wilson to direct Village officials to resource materials for becoming certified and even offering to proctor an exam outside of the normal scheduled exam dates. Thiede offered that DNR staff would meet with the Village and their new employee to go over the municipal water system, drinking water regulations and to have them tour a similar facility so they can see how inspections are to be conducted. Also in the DNR response to Stafsholt was discussion on how to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Jim Zellmer, Deputy Administrator for the Environmental Management Division at DNR added that they would be reviewing their language to make assure it doesn’t contain “…an overly aggresive response to a minor violation. In addition, our field supervisor has discussed this situation with the staff involved to assure it doesn’t happen again”.

Rep. Stafsholt commented, “I was astonished that this was even verbally threatened by the DNR staff. When Dennis Cowan called me and told me about this problem, it certainly did not surprise me that there was a total lack of a common sense approach to the situation and disregard for the Village of Wilson as it found itself in an EMOR noncompliance through no fault of their own……no fault except being a small town with one employee. These small towns and villages are what make this area so great.”

 Rep. Stafsholt encourages his constituents and local officials to call his office with any issues with the DNR or other concerns. He may be reached at 608-266-7683.