La Crosse County task force calls for changes to handle nitrates in wells

A La Crosse County task force is recommending long- and short-term changes to avoid dangerous levels of nitrates in some wells.

The report released from the County’s Nitrate Task Force says groundwater in the towns of Onalaska and Holland contain nitrate levels too high for people. The chemical can impact your blood’s ability to carry oxygen, cause “blue baby syndrome” in infants, and may be connected to birth defects, thyroid problems and some cancers.

Some of the Task Force’s recommendations include extending Holmen’s and Onalaska’s municipal water systems, using land for something other than agriculture and an educational campaign.

“That’s going to take a collaboration of the Health Department, the Health and Human Services Committee, realtors, builders and just letting people know that are thinking of building in that area the potential risk for the nitrate contamination,” said La Crosse County Health Department Environmental Health and Lab Manager Carol Drury.

The Nitrate Task Force was formed last year when tests from local private wells found 30-percent were contaminated with nitrates, four-times the state average.