TC PALM: Troubled Water: Farm pollution contaminates drinking water

TC Palm: Written by Jackie Wang, Nicole Tyau and Chelsea Rae Ybanez. September 8, 2017.

This report is part of the Troubled Water project produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. TCPalm provided the local information.

CASCO, Wis. – Lynda Cochart did not realize her water was contaminated with coliform bacteria until she contracted MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant skin infection. She believed it came from the water in her well. “There’s no other way I could have gotten it,” she said.

A year later, a U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist tested her well and found total coliform bacteria at levels too dangerous to drink.

Cochart lives between two dairy farms with over 1,000 cows each. None of the bacteria the USDA found came from human feces, she said, so the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus most likely came from cow manure. The microbiologist told her to immediately stop drinking the water.

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