Lead pipe
City of Eau Claire utilities manager Lane Berg shows a piece of lead pipe, found in some drinking water service lines. The thin, dark inner ring is the part of the steel pipe coated in lead, which is hazardous to human health. The light-colored coating on the inner part of the pipe is lime the city uses to coat lead pipes to prevent the dangerous metal from leaching into drinking water. (Photo by Julian Emerson)

Billions of dollars allocated for infrastructure projects in Wisconsin will create jobs to help roads, bridges, ports, airports, rail, broadband, and lead pipe removal.

Standing in a city block where work crews removed lead water pipes, a senior advisor to President Joe Biden said Wednesday the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will make a difference in people’s lives across Wisconsin and provide a better future.

Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu visited Milwaukee to highlight one example of how the bipartisan package and the American Rescue Plan will benefit Wisconsin. Together, the investments will bring $9 billion to Wisconsin over the next five years, Landrieu said, to improve roads, bridges, railways, waterways, ports, airports, and more. 

Other projects include initial clean-up for a Superfund site in St. Croix County, an expansion of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore trail network, funding for Great Lakes restoration, providing 1.2 million Wisconsinites with access to high-speed internet—and $841 million to eliminate lead pipes throughout the state.

Standing in front of a home on 13th Street, Landrieu said the success of these projects comes from cooperation among all levels of government and those who stand to benefit from the work. 

“What you’re looking at is a representative of the president of the United States standing in the middle of this street, in this neighborhood,” Landrieu said. “And you have federal officials here. You have state officials here. You have city officials here. You have folks that are working for the entity that handles the water here. You have the neighborhoods here. You have the residents here. And then you have the men and women whose lives they’re changing and whose lives are being changed by the work that’s being done. That’s the United States of America coming together to do a big thing, which is to save the lives of children in America.”

This week, a progressive group is running ads in Wisconsin in support of the infrastructure package. The Building Back Together commercial features a Milwaukee mother, Deanna Branch, talking about the importance of clean water to her two sons. One of the boys has been hospitalized twice for lead poisoning, as some 70,000 lead service lines still exist in the city.

“This is real,” Branch says in the commercial. “They’re really doing something. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing. We have a president that cares about families like mine, and that’s Joe Biden.”

“When we put our mind to it, when we put our shoulder to the wheel, we can do big things,” Landrieu added. “It starts with our kids. If our kids are happy and healthy, if we make sure we’re fierce like Deanna is about the future of our kids, there’s nothing that’s going to stop America from being the country that she’s always promised to be.”