La Crosse County warns of nitrates in town of Onalaska, Holland well water
La Crosse County warns of nitrates in town of Onalaska, Holland well water.
Private well owners in the western half of the towns of Onalaska and Holland are being urged to test their water after the La Crosse County Health Department discovered worrisome levels of nitrates and bacteria in much of the water supply.
Water contamination data was requested in response to a 2016 audit showing multiple failings by the Wisconsin DNR to enforce the clean water laws.
Water typically registers 1 mcg per ml, and anything more than 10 mcg per ml can cause health problems, especially for infants and pregnant women.
Risks include birth defects and “blue baby syndrome.” Private well water also tested positive for coliform, which in itself may not cause illness but can indicate the presence of E. coli, which may cause gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea and vomiting.
Health and Human Services Committee Chair Monica Kruse stated that an exact cause of the contamination has not been determined, but contributing factors include sandy soil, run-off and general land use.
“It can take years and decades for this to occur and show up, and it can take years and decades for the levels to go back down,” Rombalski stressed.
Kits are available at the La Crosse County Health Department, with results available by mail in two to four business days.
Those with elevated nitrate levels are advised to use bottled water for drinking and cooking and to consider having reverse osmosis systems installed or have a deeper or new well drilled.
Bacteria can be killed by boiling water before consumption, but is not recommended when nitrates are also present, as boiling can concentrate nitrates.