Task force promised by GOP leader after study finds 42 percent of tested wells tainted

A day after researchers reported that 42 percent of tested wells in southwest Wisconsin were contaminated, state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he would create a task force to study state water quality.
Vos’ announcement Thursday was prompted by formal requests from lawmakers in areas plagued by drinking water that is tainted by pollutants from agriculture and faulty septic systems that can cause illness or death.
Conservationists have complained that Vos, Gov.
Scott Walker and their fellow Republicans who have controlled the Legislature since 2011 have failed to answer pleas from residents around the state whose well water is contaminated by hazardous pathogens and toxic nitrate.
The Wisconsin State Journal first reported Wednesday on initial findings of a study that found the pollutants in 301 randomly selected residential wells in Grant, Iowa and Lafayette counties.
Laeser said the state’s water problems were an urgent public health issue that demands science-based collaboration among state officials and all who have a stake in cleaning up Wisconsin’s water.
Nitrate in drinking water usually comes from fertilizer.
But state geologist Ken Bradbury said the rate wasn’t surprising.
It’s no secret that southwest Wisconsin has areas of thin topsoil and porous bedrock that allow surface pollutants to reach groundwater relatively easily.
And data have long been available showing high rates of contamination in southwest Wisconsin well tests obtained independently by homeowners over the last 25 years.

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