Water Quality

Access to quality drinking water is vital to the public health and well-being of Oneida County residents. We expect our tap water to be clean and safe, and in Oneida County it almost always is.

The biggest threats to safe drinking water in Oneida County are:

Nitrates: Private wells are sometimes contaminated by fertilizers and other agricultural or industrial chemicals. Nitrates are particularly harmful to infants and pregnant women. Wells can be contaminated with nitrate from over-fertilization of crops or lawns, animal waste run-off and failing septic systems.

Chloride & Sodium: As a result of six decades of road salt application, surface and ground water monitoring shows increasing trends in chloride and sodium levels, although the levels are not yet a human health hazard.

Lead: Lead and other metals can be released into the drinking water from old plumbing pipes and fixtures.

PFAS: Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used since the 1950s.

PFAS Found in Municipal Well

A municipal well is offline after levels of Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were detected above the EPA’s health advisory, and above the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recommended groundwater standard level. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is investigating potential sources of the contamination and is working to determine the extent of the contamination.

People can learn more about this by contacting:

DNR: Kyle Burton (920-662-5169)

DHS: Sarah Yang (608-266-9337) or Clara Jeong (608-267-2949)

Common Questions

What are PFAS?

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been used since the 1950s.

These substances have been used in non-stick cookware, water-repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.

Over half of our contact with PFAS are thought to come from food. The main ways people come into contact with PFAS are:

  • Eating food packaged in material that contains PFAS.
  • Eating fish caught from water contaminated by PFAS (PFOS, in particular).
  • Drinking contaminated water.
  • Accidentally swallowing contaminated soil or dust.

What are the health effects of PFAS?

This research suggests that high levels of certain PFAS may:

  • Increase cholesterol levels.
  • Decrease how well the body responds to vaccines.
  • Increase the risk of thyroid disease.
  • Decrease fertility in women.
  • Increase the risk of serious conditions like high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.
  • Lower infant birth weights; however, the decrease in birth weight is small and may not affect the infant’s health.

Learn more at DHS’ PFAS chemical page: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/chemical/pfas.htm

Should I drink the water from my private well?

The well with high levels is by the airport and is currently turned off. The public water system is not receiving water from the well that has been turned off, and the City water is okay to drink. There is currently not enough information to determine where the contamination comes from or extends to. If people are concerned about their private well, they should find alternative sources of water, such as bottled water or water from a known safe source.

At this time, we do not recommend people get their water from the Crescent Spring located at 3171 S River Road. We do not have any information at this time to determine whether the Spring water  contains PFAS. The DNR is in the process of testing the Crescent Spring.

For testing of your private well for PFAS please contact:

  • NORTHERN LAKES SERVICES, INC.: https://www.nlslab.com/ 1-800-278-1254

Where do I find more information on PFAS?

If you are concerned about the quality of your drinking water:

  • All community water systems (utilities) are required to provide customers with a Consumer Confidence Report by July 1 of each year. If you did not get a report, contact your water system or generate your own  on the Department of Natural Resources website.
  • Get information on how to get your water tested.