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Protecting Door County from Agricultural Pollution

S & S Jerseyland Dairy had been seeking a permit to expand its herd to more than 10,000 cows, a plan that endangered public health and local water resources. After Midwest Environmental Advocates submitted legal and environmental analysis, the DNR revised the permit to limit future expansion to less than half of what the facility’s owners had proposed.

Case Summary

S & S Jerseyland Dairy, a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) located in Door County, applied for a wastewater permit that would have allowed it to double its herd size from 5,000 cows to approximately 10,000 cows. If allowed to expand, the facility would generate more than 95 million gallons of manure and process wastewater annually. The production area and the fields where the manure will be spread are located in an area that is highly susceptible to groundwater contamination due to shallow soil depth to bedrock.

In February 2023, Midwest Environmental Advocates submitted comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources outlining the risks to public health and Door County’s groundwater and surface water.

As we explained in our comments, we believed S & S Jerseyland lacked adequate acreage to safely dispose of the huge amount of manure the expanded facility would produce. We also asked DNR to do the following:

  • require groundwater monitoring at production sites and fields where manure will be spread
    impose a limit on the number of animals allowed at the facility.
  • require written spreading agreements for all fields where manure will be spread
  • prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, which would allow the public to offer truly informed comments and would assist public officials in making adequately informed decisions

MEA’s comments were submitted about a week after DNR held a public hearing where many community members spoke in opposition to the proposed permit.

In July 2023, the DNR revised the permit to limit future expansion to less than half of what the CAFO’s owners had proposed. In addition, the permit requires S & S to submit a groundwater monitoring plan and to install groundwater monitoring wells. The final permit represents a significant improvement over a draft version that drew widespread criticism at the public hearing. The changes will help ensure the safety of local drinking water and the health of the county’s rivers and streams.

Christine Reid

Forestville, WI

News Related to this Case

News

DNR Limits Future Expansion of Door County CAFO After Community Outcry

The DNR has finalized a wastewater discharge permit that limits the expansion of Door County’s only CAFO. S & S Jerseyland Dairy had been seeking a permit to more than double in size, from 5,000 to approximately 10,000 cows. The final permit, which limits future expansion to half the number of animals proposed by S & S, represents a significant improvement over an earlier draft version that drew widespread criticism from community members.

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