News Feature | April 1, 2014

Two Years Later, Wisconsin Residents Still Without Tap Water

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


In a small Wisconsin town, many residents have gone without clean tap water since 2012. But now it appears they will have clean tap water restored by the end of the summer. 

It all started with a gasoline pipeline break nearly two years ago. 

"A leak under the Town of Jackson discovered on July 17, 2012 spilled an estimated 55,000 gallons of gasoline product into the soil, contaminating many wells with benzene,” WISN reported

Even with filtration, "the tap water for dozens of families with private wells has been declared unsafe by the state," WISN said in a previous report.  Residents were able to use the compromised tap water for cleaning, but not drinking.

The solution is coming soon in the form of a new water pipeline, according to the report.

How are residents coping without tap water?

"We have a plastic bottle of water in each bathroom. Every time you want to brush your teeth or take a drink you use the bottled water," farm owner Ray Heidtke said in the report.

One resident said "that even his dog has to drink and be bathed with water that comes from somewhere other than his own well. And a year's worth of inconvenience and frustration is spilling over to the housing market," the earlier WISN report said. "There are homes for sale on Bournelis' street, but no one seems willing to buy."

Cleanup from the gas line break is still going on. The pipeline was "owned by West Shore Pipe Line Co. of Arlington Heights, IL, and operated by Buckeye Partners LP of Pennsylvania," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported

Shortly after the spill, the federal Transportation Department said it was "one of the 10 largest in the country" that year, the Associated Press reported

State officials issued a drinking water advisory after the leak. 

The state Department of Natural Resources told residents "not to use water from private wells for drinking, cooking and food preparation," the Journal-Sentinel said.

Image credit: "Water tap," Colin Keigher © 2008, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:

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