County health advisory issued for water contamination - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

County health advisory issued for water contamination

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La Crosse County, WI (WXOW) -

La Crosse County Health Department issued a health advisory on Thursday after dangerous levels of nitrates and bacteria were found in private wells in the Town of Onalaska and the Town of Holland. 

La Crosse County Health officials said they found clusters of private wells with contaminated water during annual water testing.

They say the water contamination is the result of bacteria and nitrate build up for over a decade.

Health officials said traces of nitrate are evident in normal drinking water, but some of the groundwater tested in the private wells had dangerously high nitrate levels. High nitrate levels could cause birth defects and the rare, "Blue Baby Syndrome." The syndrome lowers oxygen levels in the blood of infants under the age of one, causing nitrate poisoning.

Jen Rombalski, Health Director for La Crosse County, said the contamination does not impact public drinking water.

"Municipal water sources are safe," Rombalski said. "They routinely test and very often monitor their well water quality, and there is no concern at this time about municipal water supplies."

Rombalski said water contamination comes from many sources including fertilizers, waste disposal, faulty septic systems, and changes in land use.

She urges residents in those areas to use bottled water for drinking and cooking, or boil it to kill bacteria.

There is no easy solution to removing these contaminants. It may be a long-term problem. Rombalski advises every private well owner to test the water every year.

Senator Jennifer Shilling (D) released a statement about the water contamination in La Crosse County. She said water quality has gone down because of reduced enforcement by the state. She said the problems, "are certainly getting worse as major violations are being ignored and swept under the rug."

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