$10 million in ARPA money opens up for well owners

By: - October 4, 2022 5:30 am

“Well” by Mamboman1 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is accepting applications for a new well compensation and well abandonment program, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Applications will be accepted until the $10 million fund runs out.

The new programs will assist well owners in tackling contamination and award grants for the replacement, reconstruction and treatment of wells. Water wells may also be abandoned. Several criteria are laid out for applicants, including any well contaminated with nitrate at concentrations above 10 parts per million (ppm), the state’s public health standard. A DNR press release points out that in years past, only wells with concentrations above 40 ppm that were used as a water supply for livestock were eligible for the replacement, abandonment, and reconstruction programs. Nitrate is Wisconsin’s most common groundwater contaminant.

Wells tainted by arsenic at concentrations at or above 10 parts per billion (ppb) are also eligible. Before, the threshold was 50 ppb, and that was only lowered after federal drinking water standards passed. Wells contaminated by bacteria or PFAS and PFOA compounds at 70 parts per trillion including replacing, reconstructing, or abandoning are also fair game. Applicants must provide two water sample results taken at least two weeks apart, which will confirm the contamination of their well. Samples must be tested by a certified lab, and testing must be done within the last two years of the application date.

Family income limit grants have also been increased from $65,000 to $100,000, and a requirement that an award must be reduced by 30% if the well owner’s family income exceeds $45,000 has been eliminated. Owners of contaminated public water systems classified as non-community are also now eligible to apply. More information will be provided at a webinar on Nov. 10, at 6:30. Registration must be made in advance here.


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.