Officials: One-third of tested water samples show unsafe levels of nitrate

La Crosse County health officials say about a third of the water samples they’ve tested from two townships in the past week have come back with unsafe levels of nitrate.

As News 8 first reported last week, county officials discovered some private wells in the Town of Holland and the Town of Onalaska had high levels of nitrate and bacteria, causing unsafe drinking water.

Since then, the county has received more than 160 test samples from residents, with about one-third showing high nitrate levels.

La Crosse County Health Department director Jen Rombalski says they’re still working to figure out what caused the contamination, but there are a number of possibilities.

“First of all, we have a sandy soil type here where these types of elements just go straight through to the groundwater, so that soil type is a big factor,” said Rombalski. “Also, we’re looking at various types of land uses, anything from spreading human or animal waste, the typical crop cycle, sometimes we can have excess nitrates in the soil.”

County officials held a community meeting Wednesday night allowing residents to ask any questions they might have about their drinking water.

They’re still urging people with private wells in the Town of Holland and Town of Onalaska to stop by the County Health Department to pick up a water testing kit.