Chippewa County (WQOW)- Over the last year, Chippewa County Land Conservation and Forest Management staff have been digging in to the safety of the county's groundwater. Now the results and recommendations, are in.
In 2016 , 750 wells were sampled throughout Chippewa County. Of those, 510 were tested further, specifically for nitrates. The results showed that over 18 percent of those 510 wells showed higher than the standard set for safe drinking water.
The county partnered with University of Wisconsin Stevens Point for the study. Organizers said the 510 selected were also tested in 1985 and 2007. By comparing the results, organizers can see how the groundwater is changing, and why. The results showed that the number of wells above the standard increased by six percent. County staff said they were primarily in areas with a high concentration of septic systems, and areas with high agricultural production.
"High nitrates are generally not a significant concern, only for infants, women that are pregnant and people that are immune suppressed. So in those circumstances we encourage people to treat their water if they have high nitrate levels," said Dan Masterpole, Director of the Chippewa County Department of Land Conservation and Forest Management.
The county is introducing a management plan to help curb higher nitrate levels and teach people how to keep groundwater safe. That includes monitoring wells more often, as well as more education, and technical or financial incentives for reducing the causes of nitrates.
The recommendations were presented Wednesday after to the county land conservation committee. The county board would have to decide, approve and implement a long term plan in order of these management plans to go in to effect.