Who can you call if landspreading manure is a problem in your community?
Apr 21, 2016
April 15 marked the end of the winter ban on spreading livestock operations’ manure on frozen farm fields in Kewaunee County. After voters in Kewaunee County strongly approved a county-wide ban on the practice of spreading manure on land between January 1 and April 15 (full vote results), local residents demanded that local and state government prioritize protection of groundwater and area streams and rivers. While Wisconsin regulations define February 1 through March 31 as a high-risk period for spreading of manure on farm fields statewide, this year is the first winter where the extended winter spreading ban was in effect in Kewaunee County.
Now, Kewaunee residents join citizens statewide in preparing for the spring manure spreading season. With a winter’s worth of livestock waste to dispose of and spring rains coming, it’s a time across the state where manure runoff is a problem. In Kewaunee County, thin soils and cracked bedrock in the region allow livestock waste spread on farm fields for fertilizer to enter the groundwater, private drinking wells, and run off into area streams and rivers. Sandy soils in other areas of Wisconsin cause similar concerns. Brown water coming out of the tap ushers in springtime for some families who depend on well water.
What can local residents do if they experience problems?
First step: people in Wisconsin who witness runoff events or experience manure-tainted water should call the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources manure spill hotline at 1-800-943-0003. The DNR’s 24-hour spill emergency hotline is the first and most important course of action if there is a problem that threatens the health of people or their environment.
Please also refer to the DNR’s manure spills response, planning and prevention website as well as information from the DNR on private well contamination for more facts.
Second step: let Midwest Environmental Advocates know what you experienced this spring. While our law center cannot take legal action on every instance, gathering the reports and personal experiences of people who witness runoff problems or who have contaminated drinking wells helps us advocate for better policies and protections.
Call: 1-608-251-5047, ext. 7
Email contact is preferred
Reporting to MEA does not replace the use of the DNR’s manure spill hotline. Please contact the DNR first. MEA staff and trained volunteers may follow up to collect further runoff and well contamination data and information from those who choose to bring manure runoff and/or well contamination to our attention.
Please report manure runoff events and/or any known well contamination that you believe is the result of agricultural-related pollution. Visible runoff is not required in order to make a report. We will collect emails and phone calls between the dates of April 21, 2016, and June 1, 2016.
Why we are taking reports from citizens about manure spreading problems
The limited purpose of our new reporting tool is to collect data for media and other advocacy purposes. MEA cannot follow up on contamination or runoff reporting by offering formal legal representation or other assistance to all individuals who provide data. However, MEA may work with interested individuals to collect personal stories and provide feedback on how to share these stories with media and other outlets. Contacting MEA conveys permission to use data provided, although we will not share personal information without obtaining verbal permission.