On Thursday, December 16, 2021, the La Crosse County Board approved adding a Clean Water Now referendum question on ballots in the April 5, 2022 election in a 25-2 vote.

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?”

An advisory referendum question will give La Crosse 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.

“La Crosse County has ongoing water quality issues, with PFAS and nitrates in drinking water as the most urgent,” said Pat Wilson, a longtime defender of La Crosse’s water and bluffs. “This is a timely opportunity to tell the state legislature that La Crosse County residents care about clean water and the state needs to take action to preserve this resource that Wisconsin is known for.”

Wisconsinites raised their 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.

“Voters in La Crosse County — particularly in PFAS hot spots such as French Island — are very concerned about the safety of their drinking water as well as how deeply connected clean water is to the health of their communities and local economies,” said River Alliance of Wisconsin Water Advocates Organizer Johnson Bridgwater. “By voting ‘yes’ to the Clean Water Now referendum question next April, voters, regardless of political party, can send elected and government officials a very clear message that clean, abundant water should be treated as a basic human right.”

Earlier this year, 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 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.

The Clean Water Now referendum is a multi-county, multi-year referendum campaign. Additional counties in Wisconsin are expected to put the referendum on their ballots in April 2022.

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.