Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Walker re-election looms; WI water emergency suddenly addressed

[Updated from12:47 p.m.]

Wisconsin phrase for the day: "brown water event."

It sure has been the day underscoring that right-wing GOP WI Gov. and total captive of big business and special interests Scott Walker is in re-election mode, as I said earlier - - 

I want to be the first to say that there is absolutely no connection between right-wing GOP WI Gov. and failed jobs-creator Scott Walker's 2018 re-election campaign and the proposed increase in his budget's funding for the failed WEDC job-creating agency, and the proposed WEDC re-opened loan spigot which had fed donors since its inception and his need to look like he's actually doing something about his dismal -job-creating record and the state's stalled economy.
And after years of letting big feedlots pollute the groundwater - - 

State audit finds DNR ignoring own rules on water pollution
- - and moving soon to enable the largest water users to privatize their supplies or transfer them without public oversight - - the administration has agreed to do what it could have long ago: provide clean drinking water to those penalized by uncaring public policies and proximity to the manure makers.

You sure wouldn't want to face campaign ads and editorials highlighting what's flowed from coddled special interests:

Update - - Midwest Environmental Advocates has updated its communication on the matter with a reference to La Crosse County:
It may take some time to see how successful the DNR’s program will be for families who can’t drink their water in Wisconsin. The agency needs adequate resources to respond to complaints and test water quickly. Families also need emergency supplies of water if their wells are contaminated with livestock manure, whether or not there is also a presence of bacteria that is linked to a human source. Expanding the program to provide emergency drinking water for those who have problems with nitrates is also a clear need - families in La Crosse county have received water quality advisories for nitrates and nearly 30% of private wells tested in Onalaska, Holmen and Holland, WI remind us that water quality problems are truly a statewide concern.
Again, props to Midwest Environmental Advocates, Kewaunee Cares and others for their tireless work:

DNR will provide emergency drinking water for
families with contaminated wells
Years of citizen pressure results in agency acting on existing power


CONTACT:         Sarah Geers, Staff Attorney, (608) 251-5047 x 5, sgeers@midwestadvocates.org
Stacy Harbaugh, Communications Director, (608) 251-5047 x 1, sharbaugh@midwestadvocates.org

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is taking steps to provide emergency drinking water to rural Wisconsin residents with drinking water wells that are contaminated with livestock manure. After several years of petitions, meetings and citizen pressure, the state agency has agreed to use an existing part of our state’s administrative code – Chapter NR 738 – to initiate procedures to provide drinking water to qualifying residents.

“Brown water events” are not new to rural Wisconsinites who live near fields where livestock manure is spread for both fertilizer and for disposal. But the uptick over the last decade in the number of our state’s largest livestock operations and their tens of millions of gallons of liquid waste has created a public health threat when manure is spread on land, soaks into ground, enters the groundwater and families’ drinking wells and the concentration of pathogens spikes.

“This relief has been a long time coming, and we’re glad the DNR finally stepped up to address this public health threat,” said Staff Attorney Sarah Geers. “Our primary concern has always been getting emergency supplies of clean drinking water to residents suffering with manure-contaminated wells. Several years ago, we asked the DNR to explore its existing options like the funding and authority in Chapter NR 738 to provide this relief. Despite the delay, we thank the DNR for continuing to look for solutions to the pervasive public health crisis of manure contamination.”

Here is what we know about the DNR’s proposal to supply emergency drinking water to those with manure-contaminated wells, sometimes called “brown water events”:
·        Who qualifies: A private well owner who has experienced a brown water event or had a positive E. coli test can contact DNR immediately.
·        DNR advisory: DNR staff will respond as soon as possible (hopefully the same day) to determine if manure is the likely cause of contamination. If DNR staff determine that livestock manure is the likely source, the DNR can immediately issue an advisory to the well user. This advisory will allow the resident to access emergency drinking water.
·        Where to get water: Residents who have been issued advisories can use a network of water companies to obtain an emergency drinking water supply delivered to their home.
·        Water testing: DNR staff will also take a water sample to conduct a test called Microbial Source Tracking (MST) to further confirm that animal manure caused the contamination.
·        Permanent solutions and well compensation: DNR will provide this emergency drinking water for approximately six months while DNR staff works with the private well owner to find a permanent solution (including the DNR’s Well Compensation Program).

Years of public pressure on the DNR to use its existing power to protect drinking water prompted this action.
·        In 2004, after the Treml family’s then six-month old daughter was hospitalized after ingesting contaminated well water, the public rallied around a state ban on winter manure spreading.
·        Starting in 2012, Kewaunee County residents began a years-long challenge to the terms of the state’s approval of a CAFO water pollution permit for Kinnard Farms, Inc. which is still in the courts due to the reluctance of the DNR to use what power judges agree already exists in state law to curb livestock manure pollution. 
·        In 2014, Midwest Environmental Advocates worked with Clean Wisconsin, the Environmental Integrity Project, the Midwest Environmental Defense Center, Kewaunee CARES and the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin to jointly file a Petition for Emergency Action with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to formally request federal action under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
·        In 2015, Midwest Environmental Advocates outlined the DNR’s non-compliance with the federal Clean Water Act in a Petition for Corrective Action to the EPA which included the experiences of individuals whose lives are impacted by livestock manure pollution. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau’s review of DNR water pollution permitting echoed how the Petition for Corrective Action detailed the gaps between both our state laws and the DNR’s practices and the drinking water protections provided in the federal Clean Water Act.

All of these actions reflect one thing: citizens want our state government to use its power to protect our drinking water. We applaud the DNR for taking action to provide emergency drinking water to any Wisconsin resident with a water well that is contaminated with manure.

Midwest Environmental Advocates is a public interest organization that uses the power of the law to support communities fighting for environmental accountability. Learn more about the Midwest Environmental Advocates on the web at midwestadvocates.org, like MEA on Facebook or follow @MidwestAdvocate on Twitter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bottom line.... this is all about crap that has been ignored by the governor of this state, his Republican legislators and the agencies charged with preventing this because......these were little people ....ordinary citizens who were not contributing to any of these elected leaders and therefore they didn't count compared to the big money special interest donors who were stepping up with big bucks! "PAY FOR PLAY" is the governance that Walker and his Republican friends brought to Wisconsin. Greed and money rule and those with money buy the government that they want!