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Evers declares 'Year of Clean Drinking Water'; local cities look to replace lead service linesSubmitted: 01/30/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Evers declares 'Year of Clean Drinking Water'; local cities look to replace lead service lines
WAUSAU - Congress banned the installation of lead water pipes more than 30 years ago.

Even so, at least 117 communities in Wisconsin still have lead water lines, and some of them are here in our part of the state.

Research shows drinking water with lead can lead to brain, kidney, and nervous system damage. Children are especially vulnerable.

In last week's State of the State address, Gov. Tony Evers declared this year the Year of Clean Drinking Water in Wisconsin.


"In the coming weeks, I'll be signing an executive order to designate a person at the Department of Health Services to take charge in addressing Wisconsin's lead crisis," he said. "We have to get this done."

At least 176,000 homes in Wisconsin get their water through lead lines, including thousands in our area.

Wausau has at least 5,000.

"When we replace our side for a leak or for any reason, we offer the grant funding to residents then. We try to coordinate the grant funding with our street reconstruction projects," said Wausau Water Operations Superintendent Scott Boers.

The city gives out the federal grant money, up to $3,000 at a time, for many homeowners to replace lead pipes. It has roughly $370,000 still available.

Rhinelander, Antigo, Eagle River, Park Falls, Marshfield, Mosinee, Schofield, and Wisconsin Rapids are among cities that also got federal money to address lead service lines. Each community designs its own programs for replacement.

Fixing the crisis will involve lots of money. It might also include some convincing of an older generation.

"A lot of older people that are in homes that have been there a long time, their lines work. They have been drinking lead-line water for 40 years and don't seem to be concerned with it," Boers said.

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Graduation day at Northland Pines happened without crowd, stage or students.

"We have faced challenges that no class has experienced before," Gleason said. "We're facing a world most don't know how to navigate."

But the Class of 2020 did have resolve, and a little bit of humor.

"Good afternoon: family, friends, faculty, and people who said 'well, I guess we have nothing better to do today,'" quipped student speaker Gunnar Schiffmann.

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But they can't do it without people to make the calls.

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Those people are then contacted, tested and potentially quarantined.

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FOREST CO. - Over the last three weeks, Forest Co. went from having zero confirmed COVID-19 cases to now 28.

Health officials state all but one is tied to an outbreak at The Bay at Nu Roc Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Laona.

However, Forest Co. residents connected to employees at Nu Roc say the virus was present a few weeks prior to the county's first case.

Resident Jennifer Connor discovered after speaking to community members that two weeks prior to the county announcing their first confirmed case another employee at NuRoc tested positive in April

Witnesses at NuRoc, who wish to remain anonymous, did confirm that the administration brushed off that employee's COVID like symptoms as another illness and allowed her to continue working in the building until April 24.

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Nurses and other staff stated that the employee's significant other tested posted for the virus prior and after speaking with administration they were asked to not share that information with their colleagues.

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Knowing that information, Connor began to call multiple state agencies to warn of the potential outbreak at Nu Roc.

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During Free Fun Weekend June 6-7:

- No state park admission stickers or trail passes are required.
- People may fish without a fishing license or trout/salmon stamps. All other fishing regulations apply.
- ATV, UTVs, and OHMs are exempt from registration requirements. Resident and non-resident all-terrain vehicle operators do not need a trail pass to ride state ATV trails.
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Before heading to a state park, trail or waterbody near you, here are some additional things to know:

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- Only anglers living in the same household (i.e. family members or roommates) should fish within six feet of one another.
- Events such as fishing clinics are canceled.
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- Locate launches and shorefishing access points near you.

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