Farming activity contaminates water despite best practices
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 in Casco, Wisconsin. “There’s no other way I could have gotten it,” she said.
A year later, U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist Mark Borchardt tested her well while testing others in Kewaunee County. He 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 Borchardt found came from human feces, she said, so the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus most likely came from cow manure. Borchardt told her to immediately stop drinking the water.
“He said, ‘What I found in your well is what I expect to find in a Third World country,’” Cochart recalled. When she told him she still needed to shower with that water, Borchardt advised, “Then keep your eyes closed and your mouth shut.”