DNR to expand eligibility for program to fight well contamination, add $10M in funding

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MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin will allow more people to receive funding to clean contaminated wells.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday that the state would expand eligibility for the Well Compensation Program. In addition, the state will invest $10 million in the program.

“Everyone in Wisconsin deserves clean drinking water,” DNR Secretary Preston Cole said.

As part of the expansion, the DNR eliminated a rule that nitrate-contaminated wells could only receive grants if the water was used for livestock., and lowered the threshold for nitrate contamination from 40 parts per million to 10 parts per million. The threshold for arsenic contamination was also lowered from 50 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion.

Wells showing bacterial contamination used to only be eligible if the bacteria was from livestock feces. Now, any well with bacterial contamination that puts humans at risk is eligible for a grant.

The family income limit for the grant program was also raised from $65,000 to $100,000, and a rule that required awards to be reduced if a claimant’s income exceeded $45,000 was eliminated.

Eligibility for the program was also extended to owners of contaminated non-community wells such as those used for churches and daycare centers, and income limits for those wells will now be based on the property or business owner’s income, not family income.

The DNR now expects over 1,000 new wells to be served by the expanded program.