Adams County Board approves “Clean Water Now” referendum

On May 15, the Adams County Board voted 14-5 to approve adding a Clean Water Now referendum question to local ballots on November 8.

An advisory referendum question will give Adams County residents a chance to express their support for more action by local and state governments to protect drinking water as well as Wisconsin’s rivers and lakes. The question will read: “Should the State of Wisconsin establish a right to clean water to protect human health, the environment, and the diverse cultural and natural heritage of Wisconsin?”

“Whether you work, live or play in Adams County, water quality affects everyone,” said Petenwell And Castle Rock Stewards President Scott Bordeau. “This referendum will also show others in the state our local commitment to water quality. Special thanks to the Land and Water committee members who helped get its approval and onto the county board’s agenda.This is a good fit with PACRS mission of improving water quality for Petenwell and Castle Rock lakes of the Wisconsin River and for future generations.”

Wisconsinites raised concerns about the urgency of protecting our water during the Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force hearings in 2019, but the proposals from the task force fell short and the legislature has not taken meaningful or urgent action on the 13 bills that were proposed.

“We expect more counties to add the question to their ballots this fall,” said River Alliance of Wisconsin Water Advocates Organizer Johnson Bridgwater. “Adams County is one of many communities that need our state leaders to do more to ensure water is protected for drinking, fishing, recreation, and a strong economy.”

Adams County joins a growing number of counties that have added the Clean Water Now question to local ballots. In spring 2021 elections, voters in Marquette County (73%), Portage County (77%) and Wood County (76%) approved referendum questions. In spring 2022 elections, Eau Claire (79%) and La Crosse (86%) Counties approved the question. It’s clear that clean water is important to Wisconsinites, regardless of political party.

The Clean Water Now campaign is a county-level, non-binding referendum to show unity around the pressing need to address critical water issues. It is an opportunity to let Wisconsin’s policy leaders know that having clean water is an issue that voters across the state want them to provide.

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Media Release by River Alliance of Wisconsin