As the city of Flint, Michigan tries to understand and digest the significant problem of a tainted water supply, a Wisconsin Republican legislator is attempting to pass a bill to privatize water supplies in their state. This new Assembly Bill, 554 has alarmed many citizens and experts in that Rep. Tyler August (R) of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin admitted he introduced the bill following a meeting with Aqua America and an associated lobbyist.
According to the Milwaukee Journal, the company Aqua America, “has encountered consumer backlash in some of its markets over service, water quality and other issues. In December 2014, Fort Wayne, Ind., bought back its water system from Aqua America and paid a total of $67 million after residents complained about low water pressure and hard water that damaged appliances.”
Back in Flint, it has been reported that the city’s water supply has been tainted with lead since 2014. According to Reuters, Flint was under the control of a state-appointed emergency manager [Darnell Earley] when it switched the source of its tap water from Detroit’s system to the Flint River in April 2014. Flint switched back last October after tests found high levels of lead in blood samples taken from children. ”
Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder, has repeatedly apologized for how his government has responded to the water emergency and has asked for federal dollars to clean up the situation. Now the FBI is joining a criminal investigation into the lead-contaminated water and if any laws have been broken.
Greg Botehlo of CNN, reports that the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is looking into where the truth resides, who is to blame, and what can be done to solve the issue. People are now questioning why Flint officials were not present at the hearings to explain the problem.
And so this brings us back to Wisconsin. “With the public and media backlash over the Flint tragedy, people are now questioning why another Republican-controlled state like Wisconsin is introducing legislation that could put water supplies at risk? That begs the question, why is legislation privatizing water supply being introduced when the public isn’t asking for it?”