State News: Grant Program for Transportation Projects; More

Evers Administration Unveils Grant Program for Transportation Projects

Local governments across Wisconsin will compete for additional transportation funding under a program unveiled by the Evers administration. The $75 million grant program will be funded by money the Legislature allocated to the Local Roads Improvement Program (LRIP) in the state budget. Evers made changes to that funding with his veto pen earlier this month, reducing a $90 million allocation to $75 million.

Now the Evers administration is shifting the funding from the LRIP program, which is dedicated to road projects, and redefining it as a grant program that could fund any form of transportation project, including public transit. 

The $75 million will be divided into three pots of money: roughly $23 million dedicated to county projects, $19 million for village and city projects, and $29 million for town projects. 

The Wisconsin County Highway Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities and Wisconsin Towns Association support the plan. 

The grant program is part of a two-year state spending plan for transportation that includes nearly $400 million in new revenue for state road projects and a 10 percent increase to general transportation aid to local governments

DNR Asks Wastewater Treatment Plants to Test For PFAS 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sent a letter Monday asking 125 wastewater treatment plants to test for contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS. Research has shown a link between the chemicals and thyroid disease, decreased female fertility and other harmful health impacts.

The DNR is asking the state’s 27 largest municipal treatment facilities and those with significant industrial users to voluntarily conduct sampling for the chemicals, according to the agency’s wastewater section chief, Jason Knutson. 

The state’s largest facilities, which include Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Wausau, are authorized to regulate industries that discharge to their sewers, Knutson said. He added that PFAS is used in a wide variety of industries to make nonstick cookware, packaging and firefighting foam.

PFOA and PFOS are the two most widely studied types of PFAS chemicals. The state is currently developing groundwater and surface-water standards for the substances. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services recently recommended a groundwater standard for PFOA and PFOS of 20 parts per trillion. 

State Farm First to Receive New Water-Stewardship Certification

A Marathon County dairy farm will be the first in North America to receive an environmental certification for responsible handling of water resources. 

Miltrim Farms – a family-operated, large-scale dairy farm founded in 1988 near Athens – milks about 1,800 cows and grows crops on about 400 acres of land and tries to be conscious of its environmental impact, said general manager David Trimner.

“For us at the farm, one of our big goals is to lower our environmental footprint per cow, as well as focus on lowering our total energy consumption per cow,” Trimner said.

Now, after nearly two years of working toward the certification, Miltrim will be the first farm to be designated in the Clear Water Farms program. Trimner said he hopes the certification reflects the farm’s values and water-stewardship efforts. The designation could also offer business advantages to dairy producers in the future.

The program is a project of the Alliance for Water Stewardship, an international organization that has worked with large companies, including Coca-Cola and General Mills, to revamp and improve their environmental impact. The organization worked with the River Alliance of Wisconsin to create Clear Water Farms, which it hopes to expand to other U.S. dairies and farms.

Perez Visits Milwaukee

When Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez visited Milwaukee July 18 to work on preparations for next year’s Democratic convention and show support for state Democrats, he spoke about how the Trump administration’s policies have failed Wisconsin. During a press conference, Perez said the Trump economy isn’t helping health-care costs, manufacturing jobs or dairy farmers in Wisconsin. 

He and other state Democrats said the Trump administration has broken promises to the state. 

“It is remarkable that you can’t move forward when you have such utter appeals to division and divisiveness,” Perez said. 

He singled out some Wisconsin Republicans and the leader of the U.S. Senate. “The party of Lincoln is dead,” Perez said. “It’s been replaced by the party of Trump. The appalling silence of the Sean Duffys of the world, or the Ron Johnsons of the world, of the Mitch McConnells of the world is something that I think history will duly note.”

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