By Joe Morey
LCO Tribal Governing Board (TGB) Member Michelle Beaudin gave a brief report on the water situation in the LCO Community of Signor near the southern end of the Reservation. She said the TGB met with residents of Signor the previous month to discuss options.
“Indian Health Service (IHS) wanted us to put in water softeners, but we weren’t satisfied and neither were you,” Beaudin stated. “The people of Signor deserve clean water.”
She went on to explain the TGB then voted in favor of using $489,000 coming to the Tribe from the state of Wisconsin towards the Signor water problem, and additionally, TGB will commit $2.8M in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds over the next two years.
“We’ve committed both of these pots of money to Signor,” Beaudin said. “IHS and LCO Public Works are doing tests on well drill sites and even if there is a little distance from Signor in order to find that clean water, then that’s what will be done and then we put in that infrastructure and get that water problem solved.”
She explained that once the new well sites are discovered, the new infrastructure will replace current wells.
In a 2019 article, Willard Gouge, Public Works Director, stated in a letter to TGB that his department sampled the water for: pH, Temperature, Alkalinity, Total Dissolved Solids, Lead and Copper, Iron and Manganese, Nitrate, Nitrite and hardness.
“After a preliminary examination of the results, it was found that the problems in Signor are due to increased amounts of Manganese and Iron,” Gouge explained. “These would cause discoloration and funky taste in the water. These exceedances are what is called Secondary MCL (maximum contaminant level) exceedances and not necessarily a risk to human health.”
Gouge summed it up by stating, according to IHS, “These naturally occurring elements do not have an immediate negative health effect on human health, and therefore do not score in the funding range for federal intervention.”
Beaudin made it clear this was unacceptable and that after 50 years, “It’s getting addressed and we’re finally doing it. We haven’t forgotten about Signor. We’re dedicated to making sure their water problem is finally taken care of.”