Do rural families have a right to clean drinking water from their wells?
What we are learning across rural America is that many rural families cannot drink their well water due to contamination from ecoli, salmonella, nitrates, etc.
Rural St. Croix County also has a history of contaminated wells and manure spills. One example, according to DNR records, occurred in June 2017. A cluster of homes in Emerald Township found ecoli in their well waters. When visiting family members had a sudden unexplained illness, the homeowner tested their well water to rule out that cause. However, tests revealed ecoli contamination when previous regular testing over 20 years never revealed contaminated results. There had been no change in the water’s color or odor. Fortunately they alerted neighbors, who also tested their water, most also finding ecoli contamination.
The DNR instructed families to bleach their wells, retest, and call again if there’s more problems.
These families then learned about the massive manure spill at Emerald Sky Dairy, unreported by the owners for several months, only discovered by anonymous tip. These families were downstream from that spill, but DNR refused to conduct advanced testing to pinpoint the cause because “it didn’t fit their protocol.” Thus, these families won’t ever know for sure the reason for contamination.
The State’s lack of oversight of industrial dairies and limited response to polluted groundwater is unacceptable. New State laws constrain local governments’ response to such events.
With these new laws, unfortunately, clean drinking water has now become a political issue. Lack of public health protections due to insufficient funding or scientific staff, local democracy restraints, etc. is unacceptable.
Please vote in November for candidates who respect citizens’ right to clean drinking water and respect our local official’s duty to take action as deemed appropriate by their constituents.
Marine on St. Croix, MN
(formerly of Emerald, WI)