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Collaboration eyed for Crawford, Vernon and Richland County well testing effort

CRAWFORD, VERNON AND RICHLAND COUNTIES - Crawford County Conservationist David Troester was present at a meeting of the Richland County Land Conservation Committe in Richland Center on Monday, Jan. 15, to discuss the recent results of the Southwest Wisconsin Geology and Groundwater Study (SWIGG) preliminary well water testing results.

 The individuals present engaged in a discussion of the troubling initial results, and held an initial exploratory discussion of the possibility of a multi-county collaboration with well water testing. Vernon County Conservationist Ben Wojahn was not able to attend the meeting. Also present at the request of the chairman of the Richland County committee, Steve Williamson, were Forest Jahnke and Eli Mandel with the Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP).

Vernon County is very likely to be moving ahead with well water testing in 2019, using funds they hope will be approved from the county’s Ho-Chunk payment. The discussion is at a more initial, exploratory phase in Crawford and Richland counties.

“We did discuss the SWIGG preliminary results for well water testing in Grant-Iowa-Lafayette counties at my committee’s most recent meeting,” Troester said. “The Crawford County Land Conservation Committee is supportive and has directed me to begin to explore feasibility, project management and funding.”

Troester said the reason he had attended the meeting in Richland Center was to initiate the process of exploring a possible multi-county approach to testing, similar to the approach taken in the SWIGG study.

“It is possible that Crawford, Richland and Vernon counties may work together on well water testing,” Troester said. “Things are definitely starting to move, and citizens who want to express thoughts and concerns should consider reaching out to the members of their county’s land conservation committees.”

Ben Wojahn stated that it is looking very likely that the Vernon County Board will approve funds for testing in their 2019 budget.

“I am definitely open to a multi-county collaboration if Crawford and Richland counties are interested,” Wojahn said. “I’m torn about whether to proceed town-by-town or launch into a bigger, county-wide effort like the SWIGG study, and I’m torn about only testing for bacteria and nitrate versus also testing for metals.”

CSP’s Forest Jahnke seemed pleased with the developments around well water testing.

 “Crawford Stewardship Project was honored to be invited to the Richland County Land Conservation Committee's meeting on groundwater concerns and getting a regional well testing program off the ground for our counties that still lack this information,” Jahnke said.  “We reported briefly to the Richland Count committee on some of the results of the Tainter Creek Farmer-Led Watershed Council well testing of 44 wells, our own work gathering fifty private well owners across Crawford County to test their wells, and our Karst Landscapes and Groundwater Susceptibility Survey of Crawford County.  These are important first steps, but we need a more comprehensive study, along the lines of the SWIGG Study being conducted in Grant, Lafayette, and Iowa Counties, with state/federal funding aid, scientific rigor of state and federal agencies, and follow-up analysis of the causes of and solutions for any issues identified.”   

Jahnke expressed that CSP is very hopeful and thankful that the Richland and Crawford County Conservationists will be gathering their ideas for moving a multi-county well testing program forward, and are in communications with Vernon County as well. CSP is ready to help with the process in whatever ways they can.

For citizens in Crawford, Richland and Vernon counties who want to weigh in with their county’s Land Conservation Committee members or staff, see the contact information listed below:

Crawford County

Supervisor, Committee Chair, Henry Esser, Chairman, Prairie du Chien, 608-326-2130

Supervisor, Wade Dull, Soldiers Grove, 608-624-5284

Supervisor, David Olson, De Soto, 608-648-3676

Harriet Behar

Don Dudenbostel, FSA representative

Land Conservation Department, 608-326-0270

Richland County

Supervisor, Committee Chair, Steve Williamson, Blue River, 608-574-5520

Supervisor Chad Cosgrove, Richland Center, 608-604-6393

Supervisor Shaun Murphy-Lopez, Hillsboro, 608-462-3715

Supervisor Marc Couey, Muscoda,608-475-9696 

Supervisor Melissa Luck, Blue River,  608-537-2045

Land Conservation De-partment, 608-647-3214

Vernon County

Supervisor, Committee Chair, Will Beitlich, Stoddard, 608-483-2664

Supervisor Kevin Larson, Viroqua, 608-634-3439

Supervisor Rod Ofte, Coon Valley, 608-452-2861

Supervisor Frank Easterday, Westby, 608-634-4521

Supervisor Kelli Mitchell, Hillsboro, 608-489-2797

Carol Hall, FSA representative

Land Conservation Department, 608-637-5480