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DNR investigates well-water contamination


UNDATED (WSAU)  The state D-N-R says it’s not blaming any single source for the contamination of private water wells south and west of Milwaukee. Some folks are pointing fingers at the We Energies’ coal ash landfill in Caledonia, where excessive levels of molyb-denum were found in 14-of-20 private water wells in 1993. But the D-N-R says the contamination is too spread out to identify a single source.

The agency said yesterday that it found excessive molyb-denum in 44-of-153 private wells tested – and the affected area has a total of around 11,000 wells in parts of Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Racine counties. Officials urged people to have their wells tested. The D-N-R said it would test schools, child care centers, and small community water systems.

Molyb-denum is a naturally-occurring metal, and excessive amounts in drinking water can cause gout and digestive problems. The metal is also found in coal ash and foundry sand. The D-N-R says people can keep drinking their water, with the exception of those found to have higher-than-normal chemical levels. Officials say it’s hard to nail down an exact source, as positive samples sometimes turn up miles from each other.

The We Energies’ landfill is close to its power plant at Oak Creek. We Energies says it appears for now that the company’s coal ash is not to blame. The D-N-R says there are other large potential sources in the area. They include a now-closed landfill in the Racine County town of Caledonia, and a P-P-G Industries industrial property in Oak Creek.