The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has launched a long-awaited program to provide emergency water to families whose private wells have been contaminated by E. coli bacteria from livestock.

Kewaunee County residents have called on the state to use its power under rule NR 738 and provide temporary drinking water supplies to well owners when livestock waste pollutes their own supply.

Although it is a statewide program, the new intiative will help affected well owners in Kewaunee County, said Lynn Utesch of the Kewaunee CARES organization during Tuesday’s meeting of the county Land and Water Conservation Committee.

“This was years in the making, and without having any pressure put on the DNR or anybody in the state government other than the citizens to actually implement this program,” Utesch said.

A flyer prepared by the DNR indicated water can be provided under any of three conditions:

+ Well water samples are analyzed by a certified laboratory and test positive for fecal bacteria, such as E. coli, and this contamination is likely caused by livestock waste.

+ A water user at the property has a water-borne illness, which is confirmed by a doctor and is likely caused by livestock waste.

+ A change in the quality of the well water, such as its color or odor, is likely caused by livestock waste.

Davina Bonness, the Kewaunee County conservationist, said although there are cases where well contamination is caused by human waste, the DNR program is specifically for wells that have been polluted by livestock.

“It has to have livestock,” Bonness said. “If you have an E.coli hit, you call the DNR, they’ll do an MST (microbial source tracking) test, if that conclude that it’s livestock, then they can give you water.”

For more information, go to dnr.wi.gov and search for “manure and drinking water,” or click here to view the DNR flyer.

GROUNDWATER MAPPING

During the public comment portion of the committee meeting Tuesday, Town of Lincoln Mick Sagrillo invited the public to attend a presentation regarding the town’s groundwater mapping project with Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at the Lincoln Town Hall, N2975 County Road P, unless the expected crowd is large enough that the venue needs to be moved.

The project was partially funded by the Kewaunee County Land Information Office.