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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources


9th, 10th, 11th, 12th


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics, Health

Resource Type

  • Articles and Websites

Regional Focus

North America, United States, USA - Midwest, Wisconsin

Manure and Drinking Water

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  • This article provides information about the risks and signs of livestock manure contamination in water wells and what residents should do if their water appears to be contaminated.
  • Students will learn that weather events can cause manure to leak into water wells, that wells located near farm fields are most likely to be infected with manure, that foamy water is a clear sign of manure contamination, and that rural residents in Wisconsin should call the DNR Hotline if their water is contaminated.
Teaching Tips


  • This article provides information on federal and state programs that assist water well owners if their well has been contaminated.
  • This article shows the health risks that come with drinking contaminated well water.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students should have a basic understanding of what a well casing is for wells.
  • Students should know what E. coli bacteria is and why it can be dangerous for human health.


  • This article could enhance a classroom discussion on what types of communities rely on water wells, how water distribution and quality differs from place to place, and why these differences occur.
  • This article could augment a lesson on the correlation between access to clean drinking water and personal health.
  • After reading the article, the teacher could lead a classroom discussion on the Wisconsin government's effectiveness at informing citizens about water well contamination and providing aid to those with contaminated water.
  • This article could support a lesson on how climate change increases the severity and frequency of flooding, and this flooding has a number consequences for plants and animals (including humans).
Scientist Notes
Runoff from farms has many unintended consequences, such as algal blooms. Another potential consequence is the presence of fecal matter in a water supply. This resource from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provides information and helpful links for people who may be dealing with manure runoff infiltrating their drinking water. This resource is recommended for teaching.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • English Language Arts
    • Reading: Informational Text (K-12)
      • RI.CI.11–12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of an informational text and analyze how they are developed and refined over the course of a text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex account or analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
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