Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Kewaunee County Citizens Challenge CAFO Expansion, Water Pollution Permit

Feb 04, 2014

On Tuesday, February 11, petitioners from the Town of Lincoln are heading to court to challenge the water pollution permit issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Kewaunee County.

At issue is the DNR’s approval of a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit for Kinnard Farms Inc.'s proposed industrial dairy expansion. The neighbors of the CAFO are challenging the permit because it does not adequately protect surface water and groundwater from the approximately 70 million gallons of liquid manure and other waste the expanded industrial dairy would produce and dispose of each year.

“Without complete information, discharge limits, water quality monitoring, or adequate waste management plans, the state cannot enforce the laws that protect drinking water for families living near the industrial dairy,” said Sarah Williams, attorney with Midwest Environmental Advocates.

The neighbors of the dairy are also concerned that the permit does not protect surface water and groundwater from the significant pollution that can result from the overapplication of CAFO manure. Manure can be a valuable fertilizer when used appropriately, but if overapplied, mishandled or spread in such quantities and concentrations as it is in CAFO-concentrated Kewaunee County, it causes nutrient and bacteria pollution of surface waters and groundwater.

Most residents of Kewaunee County rely on private wells in the water table rather than municipal water systems. The petitioners’ homes and water wells are in a Karst landscape, a type of geology that is easily susceptible to groundwater contamination from manure spread on fields and from activities on the expanded industrial dairy site. Studies by the Kewaunee County Land and Conservation Department and UW-Stevens Point show that 30-50% of private wells tested in the Town of Lincoln, where the Kinnard industrial dairy will be located, are unsafe to drink because they either tested positive for total coliform bacteria or are polluted with nitrates, or both. Both bacteria and nitrates are substances that are associated with spreading untreated, liquefied manure on land.

For more information on this case, including court documents and related media coverage, please visit the litigation page. For updates and news on this issue, please like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Press Release: Citizens Challenge CAFO Expansion Plans: Family Drinking Wells Would Be Further Contaminated by Increased Manure Spreading in Kewaunee County

/ tagged: water, rural, agriculture, land, drinking water