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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Most of State’s Drinking Water In Good Shape

Wisconsin public water supply system operators reduced by one-third their violations of monitoring or reporting requirements for drinking water and continued their stellar record of serving water that met all health-based standards in 2012, a recently released report shows.

Also, a record 30 communities received low interest loans or grants from the Department of Natural Resources to help upgrade water treatment plants, pipes and other infrastructure to improve drinking water safety.

“We’re pleased with continued exemplary performance by Wisconsin water system operators and by the important progress many systems made to assure safe water into the future,” says Jill Jonas, who directs the DNR Drinking and Groundwater Bureau.

Ninety-six percent, or 10,999 of 11,409 public water systems, met all health-based standards. These systems had no water samples exceeding health-based standards for regulated contaminants, according to the 2012 Annual Drinking Water Report.

DNR’s increased emphasis on working to improve the safety of drinking water provided by smaller, non-municipally owned water systems is paying off in 2012, monitoring and reporting violations dropped to 493 from 630 in 2011. Rural mobile home parks, apartment buildings and condominium complexes are among the non-municipal systems DNR has focused on because such water suppliers have tended to have more monitoring and reporting violations.

Violations for health-based standards remained low; the number of all public water systems with water samples testing high for one or more contaminants was 3.7 percent, or 418 systems. Of these, the smallest public water systems, the transient non-community system category that includes motels, restaurants, parks, taverns, churches and campgrounds had the highest number of violations, accounting for about 70 percent of health-based violations. Bacterial violations again ranked as the most common health-based violation, followed by violations for nitrates and radioactivity.

A violation of a health-based standard does not mean that people who drank the water experienced adverse health effects; it means users were exposed to what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has determined to be an unreasonable risk of illness, or that the system failed to treat its water to the extent judged necessary.

Also of note in 2012, 30 communities received more than $28.7 million, of which $23 million was low interest loans. The remaining $5 million came in the form of grants, known technically as “principal forgiveness.”

Low interest loans can provide a cost savings of up to 30 percent to communities, enabling them to address challenges more quickly and cheaply.

Among communities receiving the help:

Grantsburg, $302,257, to replace old and undersized water mains and construct new looping;

Merrill, $2,197,117 to construct new centralized iron and manganese removal facilities;

Eastman, $929,156 to construct an elevated tank and replace a well pump, controls and water mains to address microbiological issues;

Burlington, $2,271,418, to construct radium removal facilities at two wells to reduce radium concentrations; and

Prairie du Sac received $1,769,682 to construct a new well and other facilities to reduce nitrate concentrations in the system.


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