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Environmental Groups Blaming Kewaunee Co. Farms for Pollution
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 04/10/2015

Environmental groups and neighboring residents are asking the state's natural resources department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate large dairy farms in Kewaunee County for possibly causing contamination to area ground water in the form of phosphorus runoff. The actions come after the groups asked the EPA to exercise emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act last fall to investigate contamination across the county, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Specifically, the groups are blaming Kinnard Farms of Casco for causing most of the pollution. They further claim that the DNR failed to enforce safe manure spreading practices, a charge the DNR denies.

Last November, a judge ruled that the farm can proceed with a proposed expansion project after an administrative law judge said the farm's Water Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued in 2012 is valid. However, Judge Jeffrey Boldt required that Kinnard Farms must install at least six monitoring wells in the process.

In a statement this week, Laurie Fischer of the Dairy Business Association said media reports have been 'more than happy to point fingers at agriculture, especially large dairies,' which she claims is not fair because most of these operations are already heavily regulated and are following the rules of the law.

"Agriculture is the primary land use in the watershed, so it makes sense it would contribute a significant portion of the phosphorus," Fischer noted, who serves as DBA's dairy police director. "It is far more concerning that urban areas, which cover just 27 percent of the watershed's land, contribute the majority of the phosphorus."

Meanwhile, residents in the county voted in a referendum this week to prohibit manure spreading between January 1 through April 15 in order to reduce the change for manure runoff.

The EPA says they are working with the Wisconsin DNR on 'potential remedies' to the groundwater issues in Kewaunee County.

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