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 Crescent Town Spring

The Oneida County Health Department in partnership with the Town of Crescent, tested the Crescent Town Spring at 3171 S River Rd on July 31, 2019 for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Test results received late on August 14, 2019 from the Spring indicated an elevated PFHxS level. While Wisconsin does not have a standard for PFHxS, this level is higher than the guidance values established by other states. Other detected PFAS include PFOA, PFOS, PFBS, and PFHxA. Although PFAS are not currently regulated, OCHD is taking a proactive approach to assure the community is making informed decisions about drinking water. A sign has been posted at the Spring indicating the test results and OCHD’s recommendation NOT to drink the water. Boiling this water will not reduce potential PFAS concentrations.

Test results from the Crescent Town Spring: CLICK HERE

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.

For testing of your private well for PFAS please contact:

  • NORTHERN LAKE SERVICES, INC.: https://www.nlslab.com/ 1-800-278-1254
  • WISCONSIN STATE LAB OF HYGIENE ENVIRONMENTAL LAB: 1-800-442-4618

What can I do about PFAS in my water?

Minnesota evaluated the PFAS removal capacity for in-home filters and found that mount water carbon filters (that meet NSF/ANSI 53 standards) can effectively remove common PFAS, including PFHxS. The initial cost estimate for carbon filters is $10 to $100 and the maintenance cost estimate ranges from $10 to $100 every few months to replace the filter.

The other option for PFAS removal is Reverse Osmosis, however, the cost estimate for this is higher than carbon filters.

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.