Saturday, March 26, 2016

Business/DNR axis again wrecks WI well water

You may have followed the news about persistent nitrate contamination in Wisconsin drinking water near the state's rapidly expanding industrial-scale animal feeding operations, (CAFOs) and additional news about the Legislature's push to further de-regulate big groundwater users' withdrawals and make their groundwater access permanent and transferable.

This groundwater grab is taking place as the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has been stripped by Walker and the Legislature of science staffers and operating revenue, and is directed on a daily basis by a former GOP state senator and home builder who had ridiculed agency staffers before becoming Walker's chamber of commerce tool to further privatize the public's air, land and water.

And there is a fresh report from State Sen. Kathleen Vineholt, (D-Alma), of well water contamination, state inaction and business thoughtlessness involving one of the state's many water-intensive, barely-regulated sand mines and some Trempealeau County citizens who live nearby:

Almost immediately after the mine began operation...Neighbors' water pressure dropped dramatically during blasting; a well went dry; water filters normally changed every 30 years had to be changed every two or three months; chicken watering devices clogged with sand; chickens died and heavy metals appeared in drinking water...
Stacy lives about a half-mile from the mine. She sent me photos of her water, which was a murky brownish orange, and photos of her scooping handfuls of sand out of her toilet tank... 
But the worst came in January. Stacy lost Apples, her horse. Stacy said, “I took it very bad.”Apples died of liver failure. The horse had heavy metals in his tissues. Stacy told me the metals were “too much for his body. He can’t process or get rid of it.” Her vet said her water “was the worst water he’d ever seen.” 
County officials started a well-testing program. They contacted the state and asked if conditions of the farm well permit used by the mine were violated. When the county couldn’t get answers they called me. 
Ironically, the Senate was considering a bill to change high-capacity well laws... 
During the Senate debate, I asked colleagues to support amendments to review well permits ...The Senate majority voted down all my amendments.

1 comment:

Webb Rowan said...

It is sad that innocent lives were sacrificed due to human negligence. Nevertheless, efforts have been made to tackle the ongoing issues but not every presented amendment will be well-accepted at almost an immediate effect. The severity of the situation needs to be emphasized in order for action to be taken before worst scenarios take place.