Monday, April 11, 2016

Growing concerns over Wisconsin's groundwater crisis

[Updated from 4/8-11/2016] More on what continues to be the environmental story of the decade in our state - - the intentional and ideologically-driven misuse of Wisconsin's groundwater:

Wisconsin's Central Sands area across eight counties have persistent groundwater contamination and capacity problems enabled by Big Ag and industrial-scale animal feeding operations and made worse by pro-corporate public officials ignoring the public interest:
Known as the Central Sands region, its residents are increasingly concerned with the quality and quantity of their groundwater. Residents from each of the eight impacted Wisconsin counties stress how the water's worsening condition creates an unfit living situation at Thursday's listening session. 
"Two dogs died on Lake Camelot, on Manchester Court, which was right near our home," Town of Saratoga resident Rhonda Carrell said, addressing the legislators, "and I ended up being paralyzed."
Here's another account of the meeting:
Saratoga is in some ways ground zero on that subject: It is the site of a proposed large-scale dairy that many residents and even the town government adamantly oppose, citing concerns about the 55 million gallons of liquid manure the farm would generate and its 33 high-capacity wells.

Such wells can draw more than 100,000 gallons of water a day and increasingly are used in agriculture to irrigate crops. Experts believe growing use of high-capacity wells has caused lake levels to drop and streams' flows to slow.
You might want to bookmark the site put up by Friends of the Central Sands.

Some extensive background about groundwater contamination statewide, here:

Nitrate in water widespread, current rules no match for it 
*  Which is what you get when the DNR is intentionally recast by Gov. Scott Walker as a business development agency.

*  And when Big Ag isn't shy about making water policy demands on the government Walker and the GOP control.

*  Or when a high-profile and substantial CAFO expansion comes with selective official compliance and weak follow-up which continues the dismissal of the public interest:

The final permit requires the farm to do onsite groundwater checks for pollution and strengthen its liquid manure storage plans.
However, the permit does not include requirements for offsite groundwater monitoring or cap the number of animals allowed on the farm, as was ordered by an administrative law judge in October 2014...Kinnard Farms was in the process of appealing the order when the DNR received an opinion from the state Department of Justice that the state doesn’t have authority to impose those requirements.
*  And which is why pending DNR decisions about clear-cutting and wetland filling and groundwater pumping by water-dependent CAFOs and golf course operations in several high profile proposals under official review seem destined for approval.

All of which is why federal intervention in the public interest is needed in Wisconsin because the Walker administration has systematically ignored multiple clean water needs and responsibilities  - - from the earliest days of his administration - - and which I have enumerated several times, including in this 2013 summary:
Not even a subsequent 2011 letter from federal officials citing a jaw-dropping 75 "omissions and deviations" in Wisconsin's management of the U.S. Clean Water Act has slowed the flow of proposals or actions by the governor, state agencies and the Legislature that would: 
■End some environmental reviews for some major development projects.
■Change laws to ease building in wetlands, including waterways protected for their scientifically significant status. The bill was drafted with active input from Wisconsin building interests; Walker signed it to a standing ovation at a convention of Realtors.
Allow mega-dairies to expand without serious regard for the water table; and exempt some new high-capacity well water (100,000-plus gallons daily) applicants statewide from assessing the wells' cumulative water draw effects; and reduce state water program management overall by ending the collection of the $125 annual high-capacity well water withdrawal fee... 
■End the ability of municipalities to establish construction site runoff regulations stronger than state standards, while simultaneously transferring overall enforcement to the DNR — an agency now run with a chamber-of-commerce mentality intentionally installed there by Walker.
■Deeply cut funding for a long-standing and bipartisan open space acquisition program — the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund — and require the DNR to sell 10,000 acres of land, land that retains moisture, prevents flooding, filters water and sustains fish and wildlife.
■Open shore land to greater development, despite the benefit and need for erosion and flood controls.
■Enable unprecedented mountain-top removal in the pristine, northern Penokee Hills for an historically long, deep and wide open-pit iron ore mine in a watershed that includes the headwaters of the Bad River near Lake Superior.The mine would be upriver from public drinking water supplies and close to wild rice producing estuaries central to the survival of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe (Chippewa), and could allow, despite scientific testimony and other warnings, the dumping of millions of tons of acid-yielding waste rock across more than 3,000 acres and into streams and wetlands — expanding the impact of the wetlands-filling legislation written earlier that had pleased real estate and building interests.
*  Trends which were I gathered together in a recent update:
Here is yet another example of what this Governor, and Legislature, and Attorney General, and Department of Natural Resources are tolerating - - this time exposing one couple's travails with groundwater pollution along the river that bears the state's name - - The Wisconsin River:
How many more investigative reports have to be written before the federal government finally comes into Wisconsin, declares that years of documented foot-dragging will no longer be tolerated, and acts on behalf of American citizens - - our fellow Wisconsinites - - who are unlucky enough to live where their water rights are being ignored or given away, in plain sight?
...rising water pollution in the sloughs and oxbow lakes along the Wisconsin River can be blamed primarily on changing farming practices and the use of nonorganic liquid fertilizers, which are man-made chemical compounds. Some farmland is used as dumping ground for excess fertilizer.
You might want to check out this expert's postings
Additional background:

DNR knows but ignores impact of WI groundwater contamination

Here's a link to the online version of the water experts' findings - - proof that the state knows full well the extent of the problem the DNR Secretary and Attorney General choose to ignore, forcing the people to sue their own 'regulators' for to fix a known problem - - and the report's executive summary, which highlights an increase statewide in groundwater nitrate contamination, and other problems. 


Anonymous said...

The Republicans are distracting from the nitrates by putting delicious manure lagoon run-off in our water too. The public can't resist it. The poo is too tasty and wholesome. What the public doesn't know is that the fecal-goodness does not come without a cost.

If Wisconsinites overwhelmingly vote to put animal waste in their drinking water, evidently because they love it and the politicians that deliver it to them, then they are just going to have to accept nitrates too. The Republicans have figured out that the vast majority of Badger State voters suffer from stunted intellectual growth and are stuck in Freud's Anal Stage of Psychosexual Development.

In a healthy person, this is the first 18 months to about 3 1/2 years. At this stage, the young child is fixated upon its own process of eliminating feces, experiencing pleasure in the anal regions of the body, and reacting emotionally to attempts by parents or other caregivers to control this physical function through toilet training.

In Wisconsin we have see that this fixation on everything anal and poopy is a life-long stage and creates a highly-energized electorate.

Anonymous said...

Sadly filing and winning law suits against Walker and his agencies for their failures to protect our water resources will do no good as they will simply appeal any and all cases to the Wisconsin Supreme Court which will rule in favor of Walker in all cases! We need federal action especially by the EPA but unless one of our Congressmen makes this an issue there is probably little chance of getting EPA action. It sure would be nice if one of our elected officials called for federal action!

Anonymous said...

It's only a "crisis" if you think you are too good to drink farm animal urine and feces. For Walker's base, this isn't a "glitch", it is a feature of their beloved dear leader's policies.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to drink the manure run-off that Scott Walker's supporters seem to crave. Heck, if I wanted to drink extremely foul water, I'd just drink my own urine.