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Watershed council pursuing entrance signage and well testing
Tainter Creek
TCWC logo

TAINTER CREEK - Perhaps one of the most exciting business items on the agenda for the Thursday, Feb. 25 meeting of the farmers of the Tainter Creek Watershed Council was watershed signage. The council is working to place ‘Tainter Creek Watershed’ signs at all of the major entrances to the watershed in Crawford and Vernon counties.

The groups 2021 DATCP Producer-Led Watershed Council grant included funding for the signs, as well as signs for fields of watershed council farmers growing cover crops.

TCWC entrance proposed locations map

Proposed locations for the ten watershed entrance signs include:

Vernon County

• County J and Aasen Road

• Highway 27 and Tainter Hollow Road

• Highway 27 and James Road

• Highway 27 and Finley Road (near County B)

• County J and County JJ

• County J and Solverson or Jones Road

Crawford County

• County C and McManus Road

• Highway 27 and Rollercoaster Road

• County B and West Point Road

• County J/County C and Turben, Pine Knob or Sherry Ridge Road

Valley Stewardship Network’s Monique Hassman reported to the group on conversations she had with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Vernon and Crawford County Highway Departments about rules governing placement of signs.

“The DOT would require us to work on placement with the WDNR,” Hassman said. “We would only be allowed to use the classic, standard brown sign and no colorful pictures such as the watershed council logo.”

Hassman next enlisted Vernon County Highway Commissioner Phil Hewitt in the conversation.

“Phil told me that on county and town roads, we would be required to follow all DOT regulations,” Hassman explained. “The signs could be one foot by 18 inches, and they could be a little wider. They would need to be mounted on four-by-four wooden post or steel posts.

Hassman said that Hewitt had told her that the signs could not cause sight obstructions or any other kind of hazard. He said that if the signs are mounted more than 32 feet from the centerline of the roadway, then no landowner permission would be required. The group was in total agreement, though, that no signs would be placed without landowner permission. Hewitt offered to go out with council members to review any proposed locations for signs.

Hassman says that she sent the proposed map to the Crawford County Highway Commissioner Kyle Kozelka who is reportedly reviewing the map. According to Hassman, Kozelka stands ready and willing to help. 

The group would be interested to hear from any landowners who would consider allowing the signs to be placed on their land in either county. Hassman can be reached at Dani Heisler-Woodill can be reached at Both can be reached by phone at 608-637-3615.

Well water testing

In addition to funding for watershed signage, the DATCP grant also provided funding for another round of well water-testing in the watershed. Generally, the watershed includes land in Vernon County Franklin Township and Crawford County Utica Township.

The date for collection of water samples will be Monday, April 19.

In order to take advantage of efficiencies for collecting the samples and transporting them to the lab in Stevens Point, the council decided to hold their testing event at the same time as the Spring 2021 Driftless Area Water Study (DAWS) testing event. The DAWS study is a collaborative well water testing initiative being undertaken by Crawford, Vernon and Richland counties.

The Tainter Creek Watershed Council will offer watershed landowners the opportunity to have the ‘Homeowners Test,’ which will provide them results for coliform bacteria and nitrate, among other things. Participants will be asked to pay $25 of the total $55 cost. 

The advantage will be in the fact that their samples will be transported up to the lab in Stevens Point for them free of charge. If the landowner pursued the testing by themselves, then they would have to ship their sample priority or drive it to the lab themselves, so it is a considerable savings of money and/or time.

All well water-testing results are completely confidential, and are shared by the UW-Stevens Point lab only with the well owner.

The situation is slightly complicated in that the three counties in the DAWS study are each doing things a little bit differently.

Crawford and Richland counties are each offering the water testing free of charge. However, participants will not volunteer but rather will be randomly selected and invited to participate by the county.

So, for Crawford County Town of Utica well owners, if you are not selected by the county to participate in DAWS, you have the option of having your well water tested through the Tainter Creek Watershed Council.

Vernon County is allowing county residents to volunteer to participate, and is asking them to pay $25 of the total $55 cost of the test. Because of the sampling that has and will be conducted in the Tainter Creek Watershed, Vernon County Town of Franklin well owners are excluded from the DAWS testing.

Participants in either the DAWS or Tainter Creek Watershed Council well water testing efforts will be able to choose the location in the three counties (Crawford, Vernon, Richland) that is most convenient for them to drop off their water sample. So, for example, if you live in Utica Township but work in Richland Center, then you could choose to drop your sample off in Richland Center.

Pickup of the empty water sample bottles and instructions for DAWS will be facilitated by the county land conservation department for each county (Prairie du Chien/Viroqua/Richland Center). Vernon County Land Conservation Department will also distribute bottles for the Tainter Creek Watershed Council well water testing event from their Viroqua office.

To participate in the Tainter Creek Watershed Council well water-testing event, contact Sarah McDowell at smcdowell@vernoncounty.orgor 608-637-5480.