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MADISON — Attorney General J.B. VanHollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed and settled a lawsuit against southeastern Wisconsin well driller Todd Huemann and his company, T. Huemann Well & Pump, Inc. (collectively "Huemann"), for violations of state well construction, well location and well construction reporting requirements.
The complaint filed by the DOJ at the request of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleges that Huemann has violated similar requirements multiple times by improperly locating wells and failing to obtain variances, by failing to comply with variance conditions, and by failing to properly construct shallow bedrock wells. It also alleges that Huemann failed to comply with reporting requirements, despite numerous reminders by the DNR.
When wells are not properly constructed, there is a risk that the people who drink the water will be exposed to toxins and pathogens. This is because gaps in the annular space allow surface contaminants to travel down the casing to, or toward, the aquifer. There also is a danger that gaps next to the well will allow contaminants to flow from one aquifer to another. Wells are required to be constructed minimum distances from possible contamination sources such as private sewage treatment systems to help avoid contamination, but the DNR may issue variances from those setback requirements with conditions aimed at keeping the water supply safe.
Within 30 days after each well is drilled, a well driller is required by law to submit well construction reports so that the DNR can promptly identify well construction and well location violations. Since the DNR is unable to inspect all private wells during their construction, the DNR requires that well drillers be familiar with construction requirements prior to drilling wells. It must rely on the drillers to obtain variances when necessary and to comply with variance conditions when variances are issued, and it must rely on well drillers to report the work they do.
As part of the parties' settlement, Huemann has agreed to notify the DNR where the company intends to work each day so that DNR staff may inspect its work. Huemann will pay $23,000 in forfeitures, fees and costs, and has agreed to pay additional forfeitures if reports are submitted late, or if necessary variances are not sought during the next three years.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Shelley Gaylord approved the parties' settlement agreement. Assistant Attorney General Diane Milligan represented the State. Copies of the Stipulation and Order for Judgment, Judgment, and the Complaint are available at the following links: