Lafayette County Board resolution threatens media with prosecution

LAFAYETTE COUNTY (WKOW) — In an apparent effort to crack down on media coverage of an ongoing water quality study in southwest Wisconsin, a Lafayette County board committee will consider a resolution that severely restricts reporting on study results.

Among the provisions of the resolution is a requirement that that any news release would include the statement, “Please do not alter, edit, cut or adjust this press release in any way. Please print the content provided in full.”

The resolution continues, “Violators will be prosecuted.”

The ongoing Southwest Wisconsin Groundwater and Geology (SWIGG) study includes results of well sampling in Grant, Iowa, and Lafayette counties.

The controversy likely stems from test results erroneously reported in various state media in August that 91 percent of wells in southeast Wisconsin were contaminated with fecal matter.

However the results related to retests of known contaminated wells, not 91 percent of all wells, according to Kriss Marion, a member of the Lafayette County board.

It’s unknown who submitted the resolution, according to Kriss.

In a post on her county board Facebook page, Marion said the resolution took her by surprise.

“I am befuddled by the language in the preamble – the reference to a “county leak” is meaningless when SWIGG study results are public information published by state and federal agencies. Public information isn’t “confidential” and can’t be leaked. So I’m taken aback by the by the body of the resolution that apparently seeks to place a gag order on the discussion of publicly available scientific results,” she wrote.

The resolution goes before the county’s Land Conservation committee on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., and if approved, goes before the full county board that evening.

More at WKOW 27 News

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