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Van Hollen Announces Settlement in Northern Wisconsin Environmental Violations Case


MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that Tom Butterfield, Inc. has agreed to pay penalties and costs totaling $40,000 for a series of well drilling violations in Sawyer, Ashland, Burnett, and Washburn Counties.  Tom Butterfield, Inc. is a Wisconsin corporation doing business as Tom Butterfield Well Drilling in Stone Lake, Wisconsin.  The civil complaint filed in Dane County alleged that Tom Butterfield, Inc. violated Wisconsin well drilling laws by: 


  • Failing to notify 418 owners of impermissible well contaminants;
  • Submitting water samples beyond the required time limits on 563 occasions;
  • Filing late well construction reports on 329 occasions;
  • Failing to maintain annular spaces at 3 wells;
  • Improper grouting at 3 different wells;
  • Improper casing at 3 of these wells;
  • Filing an inaccurate report with the DNR regarding a well closure; and
  • Numerous high capacity well violation at the Hayward Country Club.


While the case was pending, Tom Butterfield, Inc. and Thomas Butterfield remediated the challenged wells and submitted the missing reports.  Based on this cooperation and Thomas Butterfield's agreement to not renew his well drilling and pump installation licenses, the charges against Thomas Butterfield were dismissed. 


On January 12, 2010, Dane County Circuit Court Judge C. William Foust approved the settlement agreement entered into between the defendants and the Wisconsin Department of Justice and ordered Tom Butterfield, Inc. to pay a penalty of $40,000 for the violations. 


"The Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Department of Natural Resources will continue to work together to investigate and enforce Wisconsin's regulations of well drilling.  The State's well drilling regulations and reporting system are important to the consumers of the water and to avoid contamination of our state's ground waters by the improper construction of wells," Van Hollen said. 


The case was investigated by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, who referred the matter to the Wisconsin Department of Justice for prosecution.  Assistant Attorney General Steven Tinker prosecuted the case for the State.