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Monday, June 5th, 2006 -- 10:31 AM

The head of the Clark County Land Conservation Department thinks it may be time for another countywide water quality test.

The last such test occurred back in 1988; a somewhat surprising 12-percent of the county?s wells had nitrate levels which exceeded safe drinking water standards.

?I think it?s time to do it again,? says Land Conservation Director Gregg Stangl, who hopes to win committee approval to conduct a groundwater quality study in 2007. ?I don?t know if we got worse or better since 1988, but hopefully we can find out that information so that we can decide if we need to attack the groundwater issue.?

Stangl also plans to lobby the DNR to conduct more tests of the county?s lakes and streams.

?They do some testing here in Clark County, but we need to have more monitoring,? Stangl says, adding groundwater problems often mainfest themselves as surface water problems.

Stangl says the county has suffered periodic manure-related fish kills over the past few years.

?Certainly that indicates we have some problems. There?s a lot of cropland in the county, a lot of animals and a lot of animal waste.?

?Especially during storm events and snowmelt periods in late winter, we can?t have serious run-off events where contaminates enter a stream or lake and pose problems for fish and other aquatic life,? Stangl says.

Ground water contamination can become a huge problem. In fact, the community of Chili is currently experiencing high benzene levels. Some well-owners aren?t able to use their well water at all. There are also liability concerns for farmers who may be found responsible for ground water, or run-off problems, according to Stangl.

The DNR recommends well-owners have their water tested at least annually.

?Conditions can change quite rapidly, especially if your neighbors or yourself have animal waste storage facilities. These can contaminate groundwater and it can happen rather rapidly and without much notice.?

It?s estimated that two-thirds of Wisconsin residents? water supply comes from groundwater.

On the Web:

[url=http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/water/dwg/gw/]WDNR Groundwater Page[/url]

Feel free to contact us with questions and/or comments.