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Watershed entries marked with signs
In Vernon County
Tainter and Rush watershed signs

VERNON COUNTY - With funding from a Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) ‘Environmental Health Capacity Grant,’ Vernon County has now marked the entrances to all of the Watersheds/Waterways in the county with signs. Acquisition of the signs was a joint project of Vernon County Emergency Management, Land and Water Conservation, Public Health, and Flood Mitigation Alliance.

The grant is intended to increase capacity to use environmental health data in decision making, improve the ability to identify, pre-vent, and control hazards, and evaluate the effective-ness and impact of environmental health hazard

 “Given the repetitive and unprecedented flooding that has occurred in Vernon County, watershed signage will support improved situational awareness and understanding within residents’ communities,” Dr. Monique Hassman explained. “The initiative is part of a larger, multi-pronged, public information campaign.”

Hassman said that labeling the watersheds emphasizes the importance of the county’s watersheds as community assets, and begins to encourage public participation in watershed management efforts.

The Vernon County HUC-10 watersheds marked by the 25 newly installed signs include: Knapp Creek (1), Headwaters Kickapoo River (1), Little Baraboo River (1), Pine Creek (2), Rush Creek (2), Tainter Creek (2), Mormon Creek (2), Seymour Creek & Upper Baraboo River (2), West Fork Kickapoo River (3), Bear Creek/Kickapoo River (3), Bad Axe River (3) and Coon Creek (3).

The grant funding, total amount $23,593, was used for the watershed sign project, as well as for the purchase of water testing equipment, allowing county residents to have their private wells tested for bacteria, nitrate, lead and arsenic. The county used $11,897 for the signs, more than $15,000 for the water testing equipment. No local matching funds from the county were required.

Installation of the signs required a high level of inter-departmental collaboration, especially with the Vernon County Highway Department. It was necessary to utilize the department’s expertise about regulations governing where signs can be placed in road right-of-ways and the size of signs that can be placed there.

Now that the signs have been installed, potential next steps for the county will be creation of individual watershed pages on the county’s website. The Land Conservation Department also plans to make a presentation about the effort at the statewide Land+Water Conference in March of 2023.

Water testing

As a result of the grant received from WDHS, residents of the county no longer need to send their well water out of the county for DATCP-certified well water testing for bacteria. County residents can now conveniently have their wells tested for bacteria, nitrate, lead and arsenic for a modest fee.

The equipment acquired by the county was the HACH DR3900 Nitrate Testing Machine (plus other supplies such as calibration weights and scale, pipettes, beakers, flasks, thermometers, deionized water, nitrate standard solutions, refrigeration unit, etc.).

Cost of testing, with payment required at the time of kit pick up, is $30 for bacteria, $30 for nitrate, $29 for lead, and $29 for arsenic. The county accepts cash or checks as a form of payment, with checks being made out to Vernon County Health Department.

Testing kits can be picked up at the Health Department office Monday-Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The kit will contain sample collection bottles and a Private Well Water Test request form.

Returned samples are accepted Monday through Wednesday, during normal business hours, or Thursdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Samples are not accepted on Fridays or on holidays as they cannot be analyzed over the weekend.

Samples should be returned to the Health Department the same day they are taken. Results will be communicated either by phone or e-mail (as indicated by the well owner) within 24-48 hours. Result times may vary depending on which test the well owner is having completed. Bacteria tests are conducted in-house, while tests for nitrate, lead and arsenic are sent to other facilities for analysis. @font-face {font-family:Arial; panose-1:2 11 6 4 2 2 2 2 2 4; mso-font-alt:Arial; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536859905 -1073711037 9 0 511 0;}@font-face {font-family:Times; panose-1:2 0 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 0 0 0 1 0;}@font-face {font-family:"Cambria Math"; panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1107305727 0 0 415 0;}@font-face {font-family:"MS Mincho"; mso-font-alt:"MS 明朝"; mso-font-charset:128; mso-generic-font-family:modern; mso-font-pitch:fixed; mso-font-signature:-536870145 1791491579 134217746 0 131231 0;}p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-unhide:no; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS Mincho";}.MsoChpDefault {mso-style-type:export-only; mso-default-props:yes; font-size:10.0pt; mso-ansi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt; mso-fareast-font-family:"MS Mincho";}div.WordSection1 {page:WordSection1;}