2 law firms plan to bring case against large farms over high nitrate levels in drinking water

Published: Sep. 25, 2018 at 10:04 PM CDT
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This summer the health departments for Juneau and Wood counties and the Environmental Protection Agency tested private wells and other spots for nitrate contamination.

Levels were three to five times beyond the safe limit, so many residents were told to stop drinking their well water all together. That's because consuming nitrates is linked to cancer and other health issues and researchers say the culprit is farms.

Because of that, large farms in the central sands area will soon see court papers in their mailboxes.

Frustrated people living with that contaminated water filled a banquet hall in Wisconsin Rapids Tuesday night for a meeting. Attorneys from Habush Habush & Rottier and Pines Bach were there, bluntly telling them that they plan to bring a case against at least one large dairy farm in that area: Central Sands Dairy.

The lawyers say they're opening the case up to anyone dealing with contaminated water and other issues caused by farming practices. "We're not saying we're against the farm. We were never against the farm, but we got these nitrate level concerns and we're a little concerned about what is the due diligence of the government? Why aren't they stepping up and trying to do something?" said Dan Matthews a Nekoosa resident.

Matthews said he and other residents have called legislators, talked with farmers and government agencies but haven't really gotten anywhere. Now, he's glad these law firms are looking into it.

"Something has to be done to stop the contamination and nothing seems to be doing it. They continue to contaminate," he said.

The attorneys said this is not a class action lawsuit and that each person who signs on will have an individual case but if they win, they will get paid.

"We expect a vigorous defense from the other side. We're expecting that and we're prepared for that. If we need to make new law here, that's what we'll do, but our job here is to represent these people and do everything we can for them and that's what we're going to do," said Jason Knutson with Habush Habush & Rottier.

The team of attorneys could not say when they will file papers with the court, but said it's imminent. If you weren't at the meeting, but would like more information call Habush Habush & Rottier at 608-255-6663.

NewsChannel 7 has reached out to the Wysocki Family of Companies which owns Central Sands Dairy to get their comment. As soon as we hear back, we will let you know.

Meanwhile, residents at the meeting say they did receive a letter from the concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO organization in that area offering them bottled water, among other things.