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Challenging an Illegal Settlement Between the DNR and Gordondale Farms

After the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources negotiated a backroom deal with one of Wisconsin’s largest dairy operations, Midwest Environmental Advocates took legal action to ensure government transparency and prevent the rollback of important environmental protections.

Case Summary

In August 2022, the Wisconsin DNR finalized a wastewater permit for Gordondale Farms, a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) at the center of growing concern over drinking water contamination in Portage County. The wastewater permit required Gordondale to install groundwater monitoring wells it spreads large amounts of manure.

Gordondale subsequently filed a legal challenge to the permit. A year later, in September 2023, the DNR announced it had reached a settlement with Gordondale. The settlement significantly weakened provisions in the permit that required Gordondale to collect data about the impact of its manure spreading practices on the community’s water resources. 

MEA challenged the settlement on behalf of a group of current and former neighbors of Gordondale Farms. Under Wisconsin law, members of the public have a right to participate in permit decisions. These rights are essential for holding agricultural operations accountable to our environmental laws.

The case is currently pending in Portage County Circuit Court.

Lisa Anderson
Nelsonville, WI

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