Oct 15, 2018

Nitrate Well Water Task Force Releases Nitrate Exposure Report

The La Crosse, Wis., task force included recommendations for improving well water quality

Nitrate task force makes recommendations for improving water quality
Nitrate task force makes recommendations for improving water quality

The La Crosse County, Wis., Nitrate Well Water Task Force completed a nitrate exposure report which found that groundwater in the towns of Onalaska and Holland contain nitrate levels considered unsafe for human consumption. The report outlines recommendations for improvement.

Major recommendations in the task force report included developing an educational campaign to ensure residents are informed of potential risks, extending municipal water systems to reduce the use of contaminated wells, and limiting new residential development where homes could not  connect to municipal water or safe wells. Additionally, the report recommended purchasing land used for growing row crops and using the land for alternate purposes. A key suggestion was that new subdivisions could be required to have green zones, areas with no chemical use, to protect wells.

“This is an issue that will require both short- and long-term actions,” said Jen Rombalski, the county’s health department director. “In the short term, it will be very important for residents new to the affected area to be aware of the nitrate issue and this will require a collaborative effort with realtors, home builders and others.”

According to the La Crosse Tribune, the task force began its analysis of approximately 540 private wells late last year. The tests were completed in March and April 2017 after a public health notice was issued by the La Crosse County Health Department which found that 30% of wells tested exceeded the 0 mg/L level, which is considered unsafe.