The latest findings from a study of drinking water wells and their surroundings finds manure from cows that is stored or spread on farm fields poses the highest risk for certain contaminants.
Tests show waste from Kewaunee County’s 97,000 head of cattle contaminates majority of wells, especially after rainfall or snowmelt; human waste also a factor.
A 2007 survey of private drinking water wells found 1 out of 3 had pesticides or their breakdown chemicals; farm groups oppose push for tougher atrazine rules.
Failing septic systems, leaking public sewer pipes and landspreading of septic waste can introduce dangerous pathogens into both rural and urban water systems. Experts say Wisconsin needs tougher laws to protect Wisconsin drinking water from contamination by sewage and septic waste.
Nearly 4,000 children in Wisconsin were diagnosed with elevated levels of lead in their blood in 2014, though the number has fallen over the years thanks in part to bans on lead in paint and gasoline. Unlike in Flint, Michigan, however, no one knows how much lead in the drinking water contributes to elevated blood lead levels in Wisconsin. There are no requirements to test the drinking water when a child is lead poisoned.
A Milwaukee scientist who has found sewage migrating from old pipes through soil and into the stormwater lines that drain to lakes or streams says the problem is likely to occur in Madison and cities nationwide.
The stated goals of the federal government’s Brownfields Program are to fund the cleanup of contamination, to improve the quality of life of blighted communities and to provide economic stimulus. But an investigation by nonprofit newsrooms across the country, coordinated by the Investigative News Network, found problems in every community examined.