By Morgan Wolfe, CW News At 9 Anchor | Photographed by Valerie Tobias
Turning on our faucets to get a glass of water is something we do without a thought. The surprising fact is that many homes and buildings in Wisconsin still have lead pipes carrying the precious fuel we can’t live without. Clean Wisconsin is on a mission to give Wisconsinites the freshest, safest water possible.
“Whether it is the water that you swim in, fish in, or the water that comes out of your tap, we want it all to be clean,” says Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s vice president of programs and government relations.
Clean Wisconsin is one of the largest environmental nonprofit organizations in the state that just happened to be founded on Earth Day in 1970, a day recognized first as a teach-in by then Sen. Gaylord Nelson. Meyer Smith has been with the organization since its inception.
The organization’s 2019 focus is ensuring that newly elected Gov. Tony Evers keeps his pledge to make 2019 the “year of clean water.” The group also has numerous other programs to advance clean air, monitor the effects of climate change and work to promote clean energy.
At least four million U.S. households include kids who are exposed to high levels of lead, which can cause developmental delays and other problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Wisconsin has an alarming number of cities that need to finish replacing lead pipes, which can lead to water toxicity. Madison replaced all of its lead city pipes in 2001. Clean Wisconsin is lobbying to help Milwaukee follow suit.
Milwaukee city officials say it would cost the city and residential property owners up to $750 million.
Outside its advocacy work at the Capitol, Clean Wisconsin helps people get connected with proper resources to test their drinking water, and to replace contaminated drinking water wells.
“Clean drinking water is something Wisconsinites absolutely deserve,” Meyer Smith says.