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Workshop on water protection to be held
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DARLINGTON - To educate the community and begin a discussion on how to map out a future with safe and abundant groundwater, the Lafayette County Land and Water Conservation Department and the University of Wisconsin-Extension are hosting a workshop on sinkholes, karst and groundwater from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the Darlington Golf and Country Club, 17098 Country Club Road.

Experts from around the state will discuss what is known about the local geology and how more can be learned. The event is open to the public.

According to a news release, groundwater pollution is a growing concern both in Wisconsin and across the country, as reports of contaminated wells and municipal drinking supplies make news. Water is our most important natural resource - for drinking, agriculture, industries, recreation and tourism - and it is important to understand how to work together to protect this resource, the release said.

In southwest Wisconsin, the unique geology produces a variety of direct conduits from the surface of the land into the underground aquifers, in the form of sinkholes, mines and other karst features of the fractured limestone bedrock below the sometimes thin soils, making the water supply vulnerable to groundwater contamination. What is done on the surface of the soil can have a significant impact on the water stored below.

Topics of discussion at the workshop will include how geology influences the risk of groundwater contamination, how well construction can mitigate some of those risks, what tools can be used to determine soil depth, how maps can be constructed and high-risk areas defined and what strategies can be used to protect groundwater. The day will conclude with a visit to a quarry featuring common karst features of the area.

Featured speakers will be: Madeline Gotkowitz, hydrogeologist from the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey; Paul Ohlrogge, UWEX Iowa County; Bill Batten, geologist, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey; Eric Cooley, UW Discovery Farms; David Hart, hydrogeologist, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey; and Kevin Erb, UWEX, Northeast Wisconsin Karst Task Force.

Lunch will be served. RSVP by Monday to Nikki Larson, Lafayette County Conservation and Zoning Department at 608-776-3836.

Sponsors of the workshop include the Blanchardville Woman's Club, WILand+Water and the Wisconsin Farmers Union.