KEWAUNEE, Wis. — A group of farmers has formed to buy and deliver clean, bottled water to families with contaminated drinking wells.

The nonprofit Peninsula Pride Farms will pay for well inspections and most of the cost of in-home water treatment systems for those whose well water tests positive for E. coli, the Green Bay Press-Gazette (http://gbpg.net/2cJ18be ) reported.

Through the program, called Water Well, the farmers are addressing a groundwater pollution problem in Kewaunee County that some environmentalists say is caused by large-scale agriculture.

A study released in December found 34 percent of wells tested in the county had unsafe levels of nitrates and bacteria. About 2 percent of tested wells were contaminated with E. coli.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set up three work groups to study the issue and find potential solutions after intense debate over the source and extent of contamination came to a head last year. One of the work groups recommended in June that farmers and other stakeholders provide emergency water supplies.

A final comprehensive report of all three work groups’ recommendations is expected in November.

Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles said the group’s efforts shouldn’t be taken as an admission that farmers caused the widespread contamination.

“Farmers by nature are action takers, not talkers,” said Niles, who also owns one of the county’s largest farms, Dairy Dreams. “There’s been a lot of talk about water quality. Putting our brains together as farmers allowed us to take action that’s different than what has been done for decades.”


Information from: Press-Gazette Media, http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com