Amid ‘public health crisis,’ Common Council committee introduces resolutions to combat lead concerns

MILWAUKEE -- City leaders continue to deal with ongoing lead concerns in Milwaukee -- on the heels of news the Milwaukee Health Department may have failed to notify families with children who have tested positive for elevated levels of lead. In a public meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 24, Milwaukee Common Council members discussed their next steps.

"There's a sense of urgency here in this community," said Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski.

Several Common Council members introduced resolutions to combat the ongoing concerns.

"As we get more information, the need for more information seems to arise," Alderman Bob Bauman, committee chairman said.

Some of the resolutions call for placing lead warning inserts in every water bill and directing the commissioner of the Department of Public Works to share the costs associated with the replacement of lead laterals and lead pipes in the necessary areas.

Bauman decided not to move forward on any decision until a future meeting.

Bob Bauman

"The (resolutions) were all held. As new information comes to us, we are certainly prepared to take those items up," said Bauman.

The meeting happened after Common Council members learned that Milwaukee Health Department officials may have failed to notify thousands of families whose children tested positive for elevated lead levels in their blood. It led to the resignation of Commissioner of Health Bevan Baker.

"We have a public health crisis that needs to be urgently dealt with," said Robert Miranda, Freshwater for Life Action Coalition.

Miranda said there appears to be a lack of urgency -- but he's seeing progress.

Robert Miranda

"What I saw in there was debate, but it was more educated and more knowledgeable debate than what I've seen in the past," said Miranda.

Bauman and other Common Council members said they're listening to concerned residents and weighing the best options.

"We should at least take the time to investigate the technological issues to make sure what we do spend money on is effective and is the best deal for taxpayers," said Bauman.

The next Public Works Committee meeting is slated for Feb. 14 -- where items related to lead will likely be brought up again.