Coal Ash in Southern Wells

A study released by Clean Wisconsin finds that more than one in five wells across Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties are contaminated with molybdenum at levels above the state health advisory level. Families and schools in the area are being forced to buy bottled water or install expensive purification systems to avoid the toxic metal, which is found in coal ash.

Clean Wisconsin’s report, Don’t Drink the Water, is the result of a year-long analysis of DNR well testing and coal ash disposal records, well testing conducted by Clean Wisconsin, and interviews with southeastern Wisconsin residents. The study calls for a moratorium on coal ash spreading until better public protections can be put in place.

Coal ash contains concentrated levels of toxins such as arsenic, mercury, lead, and molybdenum. Don’t Drink the Water identifies more than one million tons of coal ash placed under roads, buildings and schools in southeastern Wisconsin, including at the Yorkville Elementary School where Clean Wisconsin conducted additional testing that confirmed contamination out into the surrounding community.

“Wisconsin law prohibits continued use of toxic substances like coal ash in areas where groundwater quality is already compromised,” said Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin. “We need to halt the use of coal ash where toxins can leach into groundwater, put better protections in place, and clean up the drinking water in southeastern Wisconsin.”

Currently, federal law exempts coal ash from adequate regulation. Congress is preparing to debate EPA’s draft coal ash rule next month.

To read Don’t Drink the Water, visit