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DNR Offers Bottled Drinking Water To Residents With Contaminated Wells

To Receive Water, Wells Must Be Tested And Found To Be Contaminated

Bottled water on a shelf
Matt Rourke/AP Photo

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is offering free bottled water to homeowners who have private wells contaminated with bacteria from livestock manure.

If the well is determined by the DNR to be contaminated, those affected could be given a temporary supply of bottled water provided by the state.

Midwest Environmental Advocates has been pressuring the DNR to do more for residents of Kewaunee County and other parts of the state with manure-contaminated wells and is publicizing the effort. The DNR posted information about the drinking water program last month.

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Before receiving the state-funded water, well water samples have to be analyzed by a certified laboratory, or a doctor has to confirm a resident on the property has a water-borne illness likely caused by livestock waste, according to the DNR.

A change in the quality of the well water, such as its odor or color, will trigger help, the agency said.

One third of the wells in Kewaunee County tested positive for salmonella or rotavirus last year.

DNR spokesman Jim Dick did not respond to WPR’s interview request Tuesday on the program. Dick told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the department wanted to get the program running before the spring farm spreading season begins and to help private well owners in the county whose water is contaminated.

The free water program is a step in the right direction, said attorney Sarah Geers of Midwest Environmental Advocates.

“We specifically asked them to provide emergency supplies of clean drinking water, and we’ve been frustrated with the delay, but are very glad they’ve come forward with this existing program and funding to do just that,” Geers said.

It remains to be seen how quickly the DNR will respond to requests from people who say they have contaminated wells, Geers said.

“We take DNR at their word thus far that they’re going to get staff out there the same day or as soon as possible to do the necessary testing and get people hooked up with companies that can provide emergency supplies of drinking water,” Geers said.

The DNR is offering free drinking water for up to six months or longer. For more details on the program, visit the DNR website.

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