NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodMarinette


'We need to get that funding now,' Governor visits water utility amid calls for PFAS money

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 11, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-11 18:30:08-04

MARINETTE (NBC 26) — Gov. Tony Evers visited the Marinette Water Utility building on Monday afternoon as the city calls for state money to clean up its water.

  • Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot asks governor to find a solution with lawmakers to release the funds meant for communities with water polluted by PFAS
  • PFAS are chemicals which are slow to break down over time and have been found in humans and animals exposed to them
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said on their website studies show PFAS could be linked to harmful effects in people and animals
  • The town of Peshtigo passed a resolution supporting Senate Bill 312;Evers opposes the Republican-backed bill

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

This water utility office hosts the governor for a visit. I'm Pari Apostolakos in Marinette where they have been dealing with so-called "forever chemicals" in their water for years.

"We need to get that funding now. We can't wait another year or two years for this to happen, it needs to happen now," Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said. He welcomed Gov. Tony Evers at the city's water utility Monday afternoon.

He said Marinette needs state funding for communities with water polluted by PFAS, or so-called forever chemicals.

"[The] Joint Finance Committee could have released that money a long, long time ago," Evers said. "They could release it today if they wanted to."

But State Senator Eric Wimberger says a Republican-backed bill (Senate Bill 312) regulating the funding, which Evers opposes, should be law before that happens.

"I think we do have to hold people accountable and the bill that the legislature put together [took] that out," Evers said.

"The people who are being called polluters are innocent landowners," Wimberger said. "Without the protections on innocent landowners, there's nothing stopping the [Department of Natural Resources] from using that $125 million to go and do a whole bunch of enforcement orders on innocent landowners."

At the end of his tour in Marinette , the governor said people who own land where pollution has spread through no fault of their own should not be held accountable as polluters. But, he does believe the Department of Natural Resources should have the money now.

"They're experts on getting money out the door," Evers said. "We have to go through some process and [the] DNR has been doing it for years and they can handle it."

Earlier on Monday morning Gov. Evers visited a wastewater treatment plant in La Crosse. In Marinette, Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.