Thursday, March 13, 2014

More Grassroots Activists Confront Special Interests In Wisconsin

A note from those working to save Wisconsin's constitutionally-protected groundwater:

Contact:  Nancy Utesch, (920) 388-0868 
James Saul, McGillivray Westerberg & Bender LLC, (608) 310-3560 
Valerie Baron, Environmental Integrity Project, (202) 263-4442 
Citizens File Challenge to DNR Permit for Ebert Dairy Enterprises
Expanding Factory Dairy in Kewaunee County Poses Risk to Health and Groundwater

ALGOMA, WISCONSIN—Neighbors of a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) have filed a petition with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) seeking review of the water pollution permit issued to Ebert Dairy Enterprises LLC in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. The permit waives pollution monitoring requirements while allowing an expansion and the use of experimental liquid manure spray irrigation.

The petitioners are concerned that an expansion of Ebert’s industrial dairy will result in the production and land-application of massive quantities of liquid manure and other wastes that could result in runoff into area lakes and streams, and may lead to groundwater contamination.

The petitioners are particularly concerned that DNR approved Ebert’s proposal to spray-irrigate liquid manure on two nearby fields without sufficient limitations to protect public health and water quality, and without groundwater quality monitoring required by the permit. 

The petitioners include ten individuals who live near or share property lines with the various Ebert facilities or its manure application fields, and will be directly affected by its operations.

“Spray irrigation of liquid manure, which the DNR acknowledges contains 160 known pathogens, puts all of us, especially our children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems at risk,” said Lee Luft, one of the petitioners.

“This type of waste disposal is unproven and irresponsible, especially since DNR has waived groundwater monitoring requirements.”

“Our customers increasingly complain of liquid manure odors, poor road conditions and algae-covered beaches,” said petitioner Robyn Mulhaney who, along with petitioner Susan Connor, owns The Flying Pig Gallery & Greenspace in Algoma.

 “The expansion of Ebert’s Dairy, and especially its proposal to spray-irrigate liquid manure in our community, will further harm our business and will drive travelers around Kewaunee County, not through it.” 

The petition, filed with the DNR on March 7, 2014, seeks review of various terms and conditions of the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit issued to Ebert Dairy Enterprises on January 8, 2014.

The dairy recently expanded by purchasing the Duescher Farms CAFO in Kewaunee, and DNR’s permit authorizes yet another expansion.  If the permit is upheld, by 2017 Ebert will generate and dispose of more than 55 million gallons of untreated liquid manure and wastewater each year. 

Ebert operates a main facility on County Highway D in Algoma, and a heifer facility on CTH K in Kewaunee.

The petitioners are represented by the Madison law firm of McGillivray Westerberg & Bender LLC and the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Integrity Project    


Anonymous said...

Let's all hope that this puts DNR and its Chamber of Commerce mentality to the legal test that might finally protect Wisconsin from Neal Kedzie's war on our natural resources. The time has come to put people before party and corporate special interests in Wisconsin.

nonquixote said...

We are dealing in many respects, with Walker's appointment of the present DNR Secretary. Walker is speaking near Algoma on April 14, to the Door County Economic Devel Corp's Annual meeting. He might be moved to see some concerned citizens there to greet him with some environmental safety messages.

This Walker campaign stop, himself being the chair of WEDC which has lost track of millions of tax payer dollars, is an obvious blunder or just straight political pandering by the Republican members of the Board of Directors at the DCEDC.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting the way the press release is written: "The permit waives pollution monitoring requirements while allowing an expansion and the use of experimental liquid manure spray irrigation." This implies that monitoring is the expectation and not the rare exception to the permits. More and more as I listen to extension and university scientists, I think that they are on the wrong track when talking about inconclusive research. I think the people fighting these CAFOs are totally on the right track.