Contaminated Groundwater in Wisconsin

Nov. 5, 2018

Armenia, Wis., residents are calling the water crisis their own private Flint

In Armenia, Wis., the groundwater is laced with contaminants. According to The New York Times, people refuse to drink it, they won’t brush their teeth with it and they dread taking showers.

Residents in the communities are calling it their own private Flint. The water crisis is tied to industrial farms and slack regulations that for years has tainted thousand of residential wells across the Midwest, according to The New York Times.

The issue of water quality has now become an election-year issue. According to The New York Times, President Donald Trump’s actions to loosen clean water rules have fueled the battle over regulations and environmental protections in people’s own kitchen faucets. Environmental groups in Wisconsin and the Midwest say politicians have cut budgets for environmental enforcement, inspections and weakened pollution rules. In Iowa, legislature dismissed bills that would have blocked large-scale hog operations until the state cleaned its nitrogen-laden rivers and streams.

Armenia resident Gordon Gottbeheut’s well is contaminated with nitrate and sits next to a field injected with manure.

“The regulations favor agriculture,” Gottbeheut said to The New York Times. “When they keep cutting enforcement and people, there’s nobody to keep track of what’s happening.”

According to the United States Geological Survey, sampling has found contamination in about one in every five wells in the country. There are little water quality rules to regulate those wells. According to the Times, this meaning there is no company to call, no backup systems to turn to and no way to cure the contamination.

In Flint, Mich., the lead-tainted water prompted a public health emergency that lead to a criminal investigation.

Homeowners are forced to choose between installing expensive filtration systems, dig deeper wells, ignore the problem or move, according to the Times.

A report in Wisconsin found as many as 42,000 of the state’s 676,000 private wells were likely to exceed federal health standards to nitrates. The nitrates cam come from fertilizer use and manure spreading. According to the Times, nitrate has been linked to a dangerous blood condition in babies and may increase cancer risks in adults.