On Tuesday, January 18, 2022, the Eau Claire County Board voted 27-1 to approve adding a Clean Water Now referendum question on ballots in the April 5, 2022 election.

An advisory referendum question will give Eau Claire County residents a chance to express their support for more action by local and state governments to protect drinking water as well as Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes. The question will read: “Should the State of Wisconsin establish a right to clean water to protect human health, the environment, and the diverse cultural and natural heritage of Wisconsin?”

District 3 County Supervisor Joe Knight cites beach closures at Lake Altoona and for the Ski Sprites, as well as algae blooms as examples of issues of concern. “In groundwater we have issues with PFAS in Eau Claire’s well field and nitrates in some areas,” said Knight. “On a personal note, we had our well water tested last week, we’re in the town of Seymour, and we had 5.6 ppm nitrates. This is not yet over the health guidelines, but is an increase from the last time we tested, a few years back when it was 3 ppm.”

Wisconsinites raised concerns about the urgency of protecting our water during the Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force hearings in 2019, but the proposals from the task force fell short and the legislature has not taken meaningful or urgent action on the 13 bills that were proposed.

District 10 County Supervisor Nancy Coffey points to support from committees familiar with local water challenges. “It was passed unanimously by the Groundwater Advisory, Parks and Forest, and Administration Committees. Passing this county resolution will show elected officials and stakeholders that clean water must be addressed.”

In the spring 2021 elections, Clean Water Now questions had a strong, bipartisan success in central Wisconsin. Voters in Marquette County (73%), Portage County (77%) and Wood County (76%) approved referendums. It’s clear that clean water is important to Wisconsinites, regardless of political party.

The Clean Water Now referendum is a multi-county, multi-year referendum campaign. Eau Claire County will join La Crosse County in offering this question on spring 2022 ballots. The result of the Clean Water Now referendum vote gives Wisconsin’s policy leaders even more evidence that clean water is a bipartisan issue that voters across the state want them to address.

About Clean Water Now

The Clean Water Now campaign is a county-level, non-binding referendum to show unity around the pressing need to address critical water issues. It is an opportunity to let Wisconsin’s policy leaders know that having clean water is an issue that voters across the state want them to provide.

Support the Campaign

Explore voteforcleanwater.com to learn more about this effort. Then, sign up for Clean Water Now updates.

Contact Johnson Bridgwater, if you have questions about the Clean Water Now campaign: jbridgwater@wisconsinrivers.org.