Aug 05, 2020

Sauk County, Wisconsin, Reveals Well Water Monitoring Program Results

The first year of results of Sauk County, Wisconsin's, five-year well water monitoring program have been released.

well water, groundwater

Sauk County, Wisconsin, has revealed the results of its five-year project to monitor well water quality.

This project was in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and University of Wisconsin-Madison, Division of Extension’s Center for Watershed Science and Education. The team tested a subset of Sauk County private wells as part of a long-term monitoring network, according to Baraboo News Republic.  

The goal of the program is to determine where groundwater quality is getting better, worse, or staying the same, according to Extension Sauk County.

UW Stevens Point established a network of 438 private well owners to perform annual testing for the five year period. Criteria were developed to select wells that represent Sauk County’s soils, geology, land-use and well construction. 

397 participants submitted samples for first year of the project. The samples were analyzed for the following: nitrate-nitrogen, chloride, pH, alkalinity, total hardness, and conductivity at the state-certified water and environmental analysis lab. Well water sampling kits were mailed to all program participants in February 2020 and they received their individual results and interpretive information in May.  

An educational program was held June 2020 to help participants interpret results.

Nitrate is a common contaminant found in Sauk County’s groundwater, according to the results. 9% of wells tested greater than the 10 mg/L drinking water standard. Approximately 57% of wells tested measured greater than 2 mg/L. According to the team, this provides evidence that land-use activities are impacting water quality in more than half the wells of Sauk County.

Research will be done in two to five years to investigate the main factors affecting well water quality, according to the team.

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