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December 10, 2018

10/25/2018 9:26:00 AM
Private wells tested

Dear Editor:
Last evening we attended a presentation on the upcoming Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater & Geology (SWIGG) study. The study will test water from a random sampling of private wells in the participating counties. Existing well water data is sparse in Southwestern Wisconsin, but some evidence suggests it could be contaminated with pollution like bacteria and nitrates in certain instances. The SWIGG study will test water from hundreds of wells to determine whether contamination issues exist and if so, what is the cause.
Southwestern Wisconsin has fractured bedrock that allows pollutants from the surface to enter the groundwater that supplies our private wells. This is a scenario similar to that in Northeastern Wisconsin, where Kewaunee County residents have actually had brown, polluted water which jeopardizes health, running through their kitchen and bath faucets. We already know from the data that does exist for our area that the rate of positive tests for coliform bacteria is higher than many other counties in the state.
The goal of the study is to determine the quality of the water and if contamination exists, give counties and the state better information to formulate plans to protect public health and ensure all residents have safe drinking water. The success of the study will depend not only on the agencies and researchers carrying out the work but on the citizens who have been randomly chosen to participate. There is no cost to those who will be submitting water samples for the study and individual test results will be provided to the well owners. The results of the testing will only be provided to the public in aggregate form with no individual information revealed. Participation is voluntary, but it is extremely important to have a large, representative sampling, so if you have received a letter, we strongly encourage you to accept the invitation to be part of this study.
Finally, a word to those that live in Lafayette County. At this time the county board has not approved the funding for their part of the SWIGG study. The board will meet on November 13 to vote on the budget that would do so. If you live in Lafayette County and you support the goals and ideals of the study, you should contact your board supervisors and finance committee members to encourage them to approve the necessary funding.
Grant and Iowa counties have approved the study and funding and will move forward regardless of the outcome of the Lafayette board's decision. We applaud the Grant and Iowa county boards for their proactive votes and commitment to the health and safety of their citizens. In particular we'd like to thank the administrators of each county's land conservation department, Lynda Schweikert (Grant), Katie Abbott (Iowa) and Terry Loeffelholz (Lafayette), for their work in bringing this important study together and guiding it to fruition.
Dave and Donna Swanson
Grant County Rural Stewardship

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