Now imagine if you couldn't even use your well water because it's been tainted with E. coli.
That is exactly what many people in Jefferson County are facing now thanks to Herr Environmental, Inc. Herr Environmental is the company that dumped illegal amounts of human effluence in fields near people's wells. As I reported back in May:
It all starts with a septic company called Herr Environmental, Inc. Herr Environmental was pumping out people's septic tanks and dumping the contents on farmer fields at three times the legal limits. The dumping sites were next to residential areas and could possibly affect 40 different wells for drinking water.The problem appears to be even worse than previously thought.
The story reports that this is of a concern because the raw sewage contains nitrates that could infiltrate the drinking water and cause all sorts of health problems. The story doesn't even go into the threat of E. coli.
To make matters worse, they tried to cook the books and had three different sets of records and over 60 inaccurate records of when, where and how much they spread.
On Tuesday morning, I became alerted to the fact that another well located across the highway from the originally tainted wells has now tested positive for E. coli. The owners of the well have been told that they "needed to start boiling our water or buying water," per an email I had received. This directive came from the water analysis labs at UW-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources. Keep in mind that the well owners have to pay for the testing and treatment of their wells out of pocket.
To add insult to injury, the well owners' elected official, State Representative Joel Kleefisch, had been actively working against their best interest when their wells got tainted (emphasis mine):
But Gunderson said he hardly recalled reading Villoth’s referral and said the potential health implications of Herr’s actions were not discussed at length in the meetings he had with staff on the case.And Kleefisch went to bat for his campaign donor even though Herr Environmental has a long history of violating public health standards, dating as far back as 1989, where documents have shown that the DNR were pointing out in great detail where Herr was running afoul of the law.
Instead, Gunderson and other DNR administrators sought to iron out the problem in meetings with Herr and Herr’s state representative, Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, who interceded on his behalf, records show. At one meeting, on Dec. 13, Herr said he spoke with Stepp who assured him “no citations or forfeitures would be required,” according to Bolha’s notes.
Stepp, who declined several requests to be interviewed for this story, denied in an email she made such a claim to Herr. Asked if she knew Herr or had business dealings with him in the past, or if she spoke with him at all during the enforcement case, Stepp responded, “All are ‘no’ answers.”
Herr also did not respond to telephone and email requests for comment.
At a second meeting, on Dec. 20, Kleefisch — who also received $100 in campaign donations from Herr and whose wife Rebecca received $2,250 from the Herr family during her campaign for lieutenant governor — challenged Gunderson to reconsider the citations the DNR was weighing against Herr.
“In the age of the DNR/Wisconsin Governor being pro-business, why is the DNR giving Herr 5 citations and why can’t 2 or 3 be taken away as a show of good faith?” Joel Kleefisch asked, according to Bolha’s notes of the meeting. He also reportedly asked that the fine be reduced. Kleefisch didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Bolha also noted Kleefisch asked Gunderson to write the district attorneys involved suggesting the DNR would be in favor of even lower fines.
Gunderson, Bolha reported, “did not seem enthusiastic about writing a letter” but emphasized the agency “had done everything the DNR could to keep the referral from going to the DOJ where the civil forfeitures could have reached $20,000 to $40,000.”
Now that at least one well across the highway from the polluted site has also tested positive, it could very well be that the entire ground water basin for the area has been tainted by the excessive effluence.
And needless to say, the residents are outrages.
When I asked Democratic candidate for the 38th District, Scott Michalak, for a statement this morning, he responded with this:
" Mr. Kleefisch, I think that since you don't think Mr.Herr should have to pay for testing of these wells that you should pay for them yourself," said Scott Michalak, Democratic candidate for the 38th Assmbly District. "I also believe that Mrs. Stepp and Mr. Gunderson should resign their positions with the DNR effective immediately. There is no place for in-house judgments from people that received campaign contributions from Mr. Herr himself. This, at a minimum, is a conflict of interest and possible ethics violation. Furthermore, I believe this incident and any further investigation should be turned over to the Department of Justice immediately."Representative Joel Kleefisch did not respond to my questions regarding to this new development. Apparently he could not tear himself away from the "distractions" at the country club to even answer a few questions, much less actually give a damn about his constituents.
Even without the fact that Kleefisch actively and willfully advocated against his own constituency, his current lack of concern for the people who are left without even safe drinking water in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history should be enough to show he is not fit for office.
Or even being categorized as a man or human for that matter.
You can learn more about Scott Michalak at his website and his Facebook page. And if you can, please help him out by volunteering or donating to his Act Blue account.
The people of the 38th District, as well as all of Wisconsin, deserve a representative that won't crap on them or their wells.