Last year, the La Crosse County Health Department received an over $600,000 grant from the federal government to help expand private well water testing to five counties in the La Crosse area.

Wednesday, state experts were on hand to talk to local Health Department leaders about new water contamination being found in our area.

Health leaders in La Crosse are saying they are discovering new problems in private wells in the area.

"Lately we've been finding lots of metals in drinking water, so that's kind of a new issue for us, and that's why we're looking at learning more about metal contamination,” Jim Steinhoff of the La Crosse County Health Department said.

That's why they are hoping people like Madeline Gotkowitz from the Wisconsin Geological Survey can help health leaders here understand how to deal with this problem.

"(The questions we’re asking are) where are these contaminants coming from? What are they? And what treatment processes can be used to clean up the water so it can be used for drinking?” Steinhoff said.

"Typically we see arsenic, some chromium, lots of iron and manganese in our groundwater systems, and those are naturally occurring contaminants,” Gotkowitz said.

Those contaminants are regulated in public wells, like cities, but private wells are a much different story.

"Both our state and federal standards are enforced at public supply wells, and when people are on private well supplies, they have a lot more discretion or choice if you will, on whether or not they drink from their well,” Gotkowitz said.

It's why health leaders want to provide those citizens enough information to help them make a decision about testing their wells.

"We want to expand our knowledge so we can share that the people in their region,” Steinhoff said. “We all have to drink water. We need clean water every day."

The grant also expands what contaminants can be tested in La Crosse.

In addition to groundwater bacteria, the La Crosse County Health Department can now test for minerals like arsenic.

If you would like to learn more information, you can call the Health Department at (608) 785-9872.