High Arsenic Levels in Private Wells
The DNR suggests everyone get their water tested in Oconto and Shawano counties after high levels of arsenic were found in several private wells. Video by nbc26.comvideo
Homeowners are thinking twice before turning on their faucets. High arsenic levels were found in about a dozen private wells in Shawano and Oconto counties over the last three months.
The DNR recommends people who live in townships around those counties get their wells tested because high levels could cause long-term health problems.
The federal drinking water standard for arsenic is 10 parts per billion. In some private wells around Oconto and Shawano counties, DNR officials say levels were as high as 600--putting those who drink it in danger.
"If I could be infected somehow it's something that'd scare me," Talor Sohr said, who lives in Shawano County.
Down the road from Sohr, a similar water worry in Patty Bath's kitchen.
"I'm very surprised that there would be that type of chemical or poison in our water system," Bath said, who also lives in Shawano County.
"Certainly there could be some health issues associated with it," Steve Ales said, who works for the private water program with the DNR.
DNR officials say arsenic is found in soil and bedrock. They believe the dry summer we had possibly released the chemical into private wells.
"If there's an excess of iron in the well you tend to get a yellow or orange color to it. With arsenic levels you don't see or taste anything," Ales said.
The DNR is not issuing an advisory, but suggests everyone get their water tested through the health department.
DNR officials tell us treatment may be an option for some private wells with lower levels of arsenic. But if the concentration is really high, they recommend using a different water supply--whether it be a new well or connect to a neighbor's well.