2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
February 11, 2019 - Introduced by Representatives Shankland, Nygren,
Anderson, Bowen, Brostoff, Considine, Crowley, Doyle, Emerson, Fields,
Hebl, Hesselbein, Kolste, Meyers, Milroy, Neubauer, Ohnstad, Pope,
Sargent, Spreitzer, Vruwink, Zamarripa and Subeck, cosponsored by
Senators Schachtner, Smith, Erpenbach, Larson, Miller and Ringhand.
Referred to Committee on Local Government.
1An Act to repeal
281.75 (9) (a);
to renumber and amend
20.370 (6) (cr) and 2
281.75 (9) (b); to amend
281.75 (4m) (a), 281.75 (5) (f) and 281.75 (7) (b); and 3to create
20.370 (6) (cc), 281.74 and 281.75 (9) (am) to (d) of the statutes; 4relating to: testing of private wells, compensation for well contamination and
5abandonment, granting rule-making authority, and making an appropriation.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill requires the Department of Natural Resources to administer a
program to provide grants to counties, cities, villages, towns, and American Indian
tribes and bands (local units of government) for the testing of privately owned wells.
The bill also makes changes to the well compensation grant program currently
administered by DNR.
The bill provides that local units of government may apply for grants once in
a fiscal biennium for testing privately owned wells, with an option for a second grant
if adequate funding is available. A local unit of government must provide matching
funds equal to the amount of the grant and must provide test results to DNR within
three months of conducting testing. DNR is required to award grants equitably
across the state, giving priority to regions where a significant number of private wells
contain nitrate contamination above specified levels and regions where a significant
number of wells contain coliform bacteria or other contaminants at a level that
exceeds applicable standards for public health.
Under current law, an individual owner or renter of a contaminated private well
may apply for a grant from DNR to cover a portion of the costs to treat the water,
reconstruct the well, construct a new well, connect to a public water supply, or fill and
seal the well. To be eligible for a grant, the well owner or renter's annual family
income may not exceed $65,000. In addition, if the well owner or renter's annual
family income exceeds $45,000, the amount of the award is reduced by 30 percent of
the amount by which the annual family income exceeds $45,000. The bill increases
the family income limit to $100,000 and increases the amount of annual family
income that triggers a reduction of an award to $65,000.
Under current law, a well that is contaminated only by nitrates is eligible for
a grant only if the well is a water supply for livestock, is used at least three months
in each year, and contains nitrates in excess of 40 parts per million. The bill
eliminates these requirements and requires DNR to prioritize grants for wells with
nitrate contamination above specified levels.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
20.005 (3) (schedule) of the statutes: at the appropriate place, insert 2
the following amounts for the purposes indicated:
- See PDF for table
20.370 (6) (cc) of the statutes is created to read:
(cc) Environmental aids — testing of privately owned wells.
As a 5
continuing appropriation, the amounts in the schedule to pay for the testing of 6
privately owned wells under s. 281.74.
20.370 (6) (cr) of the statutes is renumbered 20.370 (6) (cb) and 8
amended to read:
(cb) Environmental aids — compensation for well contamination
As a continuing appropriation, from the environmental fund,
amounts in the schedule to pay compensation under s. 281.75.
281.74 of the statutes is created to read:
5281.74 Testing of privately owned wells. (1)
In this section, “local unit of 6
government” means the governing body of any county or counties acting jointly, city, 7
town, village, or a federally recognized American Indian tribe or band.
The department shall administer a program to provide grants to local units 9
of government for the testing of privately owned wells and shall provide local units 10
of government with information about the program and eligibility requirements for 11
receiving a grant under the program.
The department may promulgate rules necessary to implement this section. 13
Prior to promulgating rules under this subsection, the department shall consult with 14
the department of health services regarding contaminants in well water that are 15
harmful to public health.
A local unit of government may apply for funding under this section only 17
once in a fiscal biennium.
(b) A local unit of government receiving a grant under this section shall provide 19
matching funds equal to the amount of grant.
(c) A local unit of government conducting testing under this section shall 21
provide test results to the department no later than 3 months following testing. The 22
local unit of government shall provide test results in a manner that protects 23
individual privacy. Test results collected under this section shall be jointly owned by 24
the department and the local unit of government.
The department shall award grants under this section as equitably as 2
practicable across the state and in the following order of priority:
(a) In regions where the department determines that a statistically significant 4
number of private wells produce water containing nitrates in excess of 20 parts per 5
million expressed as nitrate-nitrogen.
(b) In regions where the department, in conjunction with the department of 7
health services, determines that a statistically significant number of private wells 8
produce water containing coliform bacteria or other contaminants at a level that 9
exceeds applicable standards for public health.
Notwithstanding sub. (4) (a), if the department determines that adequate 11
funds remain available after awarding all grants in a fiscal biennium, the 12
department shall allow local units of government to apply for an additional grant.
281.75 (4m) (a) of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) In order to be eligible for an award under this section, the 15
annual family income of the landowner or lessee of property on which is located a 16
contaminated water supply or a well subject to abandonment may not exceed $65,000 17$100,000
281.75 (5) (f) of the statutes is amended to read:
(f) The department shall allocate money for the payment of claims 20
according to the order in which completed claims are received. The department may 21
conditionally approve a completed claim even if the appropriation under s. 20.370 (6) 22(cr) (cb)
is insufficient to pay the claim. The department shall allocate money for the 23
payment of a claim which is conditionally approved as soon as funds become 24
281.75 (7) (b) of the statutes is amended to read:
(b) If the annual family income of the claimant exceeds $45,000 2$65,000
, the amount of the award is the amount determined under par. (a) less 30 3
percent of the amount by which the claimant's income exceeds $45,000 $65,000
281.75 (9) (a) of the statutes is repealed.
281.75 (9) (am) to (d) of the statutes are created to read:
(am) Water containing nitrates in excess of 40 parts per million 7
expressed as nitrate-nitrogen.
(b) Water containing nitrates in excess of 30 parts per million expressed as 9
(c) Water containing nitrates in excess of 25 parts per million expressed as 11
(d) Water containing nitrates in excess of 20 parts per million expressed as 13
nitrate-nitrogen. For awards under this paragraph, the department shall 14
emphasize the use of reverse osmosis or similar methods prior to well remediation 15
281.75 (9) (b) of the statutes is renumbered 281.75 (9) (intro.) and 17
amended to read:
281.75 (9) Contamination standard; nitrates
(intro.) Notwithstanding the 19
requirement of contamination under sub. (7), if a private water supply meets the
20criteria under par. (a) and
the claim is based upon contamination by nitrates and not 21
by any other substance, the department may make an award only if the private water
22supply produces water containing nitrates in excess of 40 parts per million expressed
23as nitrate-nitrogen. shall give priority to the claim. The department shall make
24awards under this subsection for claims of contaminated water in the following order
(1) The authorized FTE positions for the department of natural resources, 3
funded from the appropriation under s. 20.370 (6) (cc), are increased by 1.0 GPR 4
position for the purpose of creating a private well testing program administrator and 5
liaison position within the department of natural resources.
In the schedule under s. 20.005 (3) for the appropriation to the department 8
of natural resources under s. 20.370 (6) (cb), the dollar amount for fiscal year 2019-20 9
is increased by $1,000,000 to pay compensation for well contamination and 10
abandonment. In the schedule under s. 20.005 (3) for the appropriation to the 11
department of natural resources under s. 20.370 (6) (cb), the dollar amount for fiscal 12
year 2020-21 is increased by $1,000,000 to pay compensation for well contamination 13
This act takes effect on the day after publication, 15
except as follows:
The treatment of s. 20.370 (6) (cc) and Sections
, 11 (1
), and 12 (1) of this 17
act take effect on the day after publication, or on the 2nd day after publication of the 18
2019 biennial budget act, whichever is later.