DRIFTLESS - Due to the hard work of a dedicated group of county conservation staff, public health staff, and citizen advocacy group partners, a tri-county well testing effort for Crawford, Richland and Vernon counties is moving forward. The group held their second meeting at the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center on Thursday, May 30, to discuss the project.
Richland County Board Supervisor and Land Conservation Committee member Melissa Luck reported to the group on her efforts since the group’s last meeting in April. Luck said she had attended meetings of the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality in Madison and Lancaster. She also made contact with the principal investigators from the Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology Survey (SWIGG) to discuss that study’s methodology.
“Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc) attended the recent Water Quality event held in Gotham by the Richland Stewardship Project, and listened to citizens talking about their concerns,” Luck reported. “Since then, he has contacted me to let me know that he is making the securing of funding for our study one of his legislative priorities.”
Luck said that in addition to talking with Kurtz, she had also met with researcher Mark Borchardt from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, Laboratory for Infectious Diseases and the Environment. The purpose of that meeting was to go over the methodology of the Kewaunee County water quality study that Borchardt had led, and also the SWIGG study in which he has been involved.
“Dr. Borchardt is very interested in helping our group with this study, as is State Geologist Ken Bradbury,” Luck told the group. “If they are available, both of them would like to attend the next meeting of this group.”
Because the State of Wisconsin biennial budget is in development right now, Luck said that Representative Kurtz is requesting that the group give their study a name, and provide him with a dollar amount needed to fund the study. After a discussion the group agreed to name the study ‘Driftless Area Water Study,’ or DAWS.
The group decided to request an amount of $150,000, which would cover water sampling and analysis. This would involve two samplings in the spring and fall of 2020, with the goal of sampling about five percent of the just under 15,000 privately owned wells in the three counties.
By their next meeting, tentatively planned for the week of July 10-14, the group plans to present a more well-developed proposal and budget for the study.
Crawford County Public Health Director Cindy Riniker also reported that her office will be applying for an Environmental Health Tracking Grant. There was agreement among Rose Kohout from the Richland County Health Department, and Vernon County Health Sanitarian Sydney Garavalia, that a grant proposal from the three counties combined could be viewed as a stronger proposal. The three will bring a draft of a grant application to the next meeting of the group.