Letter to the editor: More work needed to prevent CAFO contamination of water
As I write this, the royal flush continues in Kewaunee County, where more than 700 million gallons of cow manure are produced each year.
Kewaunee County currently has 16 CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations). The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had a specialist overseeing these operations, plus two each in Door and Brown counties.
The primary function of the Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department is to help protect and preserve our natural resources. Currently, it has two and a half employees, as reported at a committee meeting on April 12, 2022, and this department must also maintain the county health department.
The Peninsula Pride Group has estimated that it has 28,805 acres of no-till and cover crops, which is the equivalent of 21,000 football fields. It’s a start, but it doesn’t make much of a difference, considering there are more than 175,000 acres available for agricultural use in Kewaunee County.
A decision by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in July 2021 gave the DNR the ability to set herd caps in Wisconsin Pollutant Release System permits and include well monitoring for sources of contamination. . This is largely thanks to the efforts of ordinary people who have endured nearly 10 years of litigation to bring manure contamination to private wells to light.
Violations for various manure spills and runoff have not ceased. Private well testing shows no dramatic downward trend in coliform, nitrate, or E. coli contamination, even after six years. Read the report from the Environmental Task Force and Midwest conservationists, which identifies Kewaunee County as spreading both manure and fertilizer, causing water contamination issues.