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Water Must Not Be Taken for Granted

 

August 10, 2017



Dear Editor,

Water is a resource we must stop taking for granted here in well-endowed Wisconsin. In some places of the state, like the Central Sands, lakes and rivers are shrinking as we allow unlimited agricultural draw-down of aquifers, while continuing to supply industry and municipalities from the same sources. Meanwhile, in other regions, up to 60% of private wells are polluted with e.coli and/or nitrates. And this week, our state legislature is considering a tax subsidy package to Taiwan’s Foxconn that also includes exemptions from environmental regulations. This overreach merits calls to state and federal legislators.

But water protection is an issue that hits close to home as well. The Green County Board of Supervisors will vote Tuesday, August 8, whether to pass a temporary moratorium on new or expanding large livestock facilities of 1,000 or more animal units. At issue is the large amount of liquid manure generated, and the limited ability of our landscape to absorb, filter and otherwise dilute the contamination to water.

The moratorium was recommended unanimously by the county Land and Water Conservation committee, which recently, under threat of a lawsuit, permitted with conditions the 5,500-cow Pinnacle Dairy proposed by Todd Tuls. The Nebraska dairyman also owns Janesville’s Rock Prairie Dairy, and the Emerald Dairy in St. Croix County, which is currently under investigation for not reporting a large manure leak that drained into a wetland for three months in 2016. Tuls’ original plan for Pinnacle was a copy of Rock Prairie - unsuitable for the tiled 125-acre wetland he leases from the Bader family in Brodhead. Green County has spent at least $40,000 to babysit Tuls through multiple revisions.

Much of southwest Wisconsin sits on porous, fractured bedrock, as does Kewaunee, which now faces so much well contamination that the DNR is offering bottled water to those afflicted. Green County is currently undertaking a Groundwater Mapping study to determine where the most vulnerable soils are, and the moratorium is designed to limit more facilities until it’s done. Residents concerned about wells, lakes and rivers should call their county representatives and ask them to support the moratorium. Several counties across the state have already done the same. Forward-thinking leaders, supervisors and developers will use that mapping information to site wisely, so that our water resources can be abundant and clean for both today’s and tomorrow’s farmers, residents and industries.

Kriss Marion,

Blanchardville

President, Wisconsin Farmers Union South Central Chapter

 
 

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