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Lead pipe bill headed to Walker's desk

Shawn Johnson

Wisconsin Public Radio

A scaled back bill that would help homeowners replace lead drinking water pipes is headed to Gov. Scott Walker's desk.

The plan would let local water utilities create grant or loan programs to replace lead pipes. Water utility rates could go up citywide to pay for the programs.

Senators passed a version of the bill unanimously in October, but the Assembly amended it so that the grant programs could only cover half the cost of lead lateral replacement.

Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, said that in a perfect world, he'd like to see the bill go further.

"But this is a legislative process," Cowles said. "And if we don't take the deal, we're not going to get anything."

The amended plan would also require that any loans or grants be the same regardless of a homeowner's income.

Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said the plan fell well short of what was needed.

"I am endlessly frustrated that we are refusing to do more to tackle lead in our state," Larson said.

Still, the measure passed on a voice vote.

There are at least 176,000 lead service lines that connect public water mains to Wisconsin homes, according to an estimate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Also Tuesday:

Senators passed a bill that would end the requirement that water skiers have "spotters" in the back of their boats. Current law requires a motorboat to have a driver and a spotter in order to pull a water skier. This bill would make that optional as long as the boat has a mirror.

Senators also passed a bill that would allow 15-year-olds to work as lifeguards, a move pushed by the state's tourism industry. Current law bans 14- and 15-year-olds from working as lifeguards.

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