Wednesday, July 12, 2017

New WI manure spill highlights myriad, continuing public health issues

First to the latest Wisconsin brown water news: 

There's been waterway contamination and a substantial fish kill from a manure discharge by an Outagamie dairy operation, media and the Wisconsin DNR report: 
A large manure spill, which resulted in a significant fish kill in Dutchman Creek near Freedom, has been contained and is in the process of being cleaned up, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 
The spill happened at Neighborhood Dairy, a large dairy farm located just northeast of Freedom in Outagamie County, the DNR said.
The portion of Dutchman Creek affected, about a mile and half, is almost entirely located within tribal boundaries of the Oneida Nation. The DNR has notified the tribe and will keep them updated, they said.
There's a repulsive and odoriferous repetition to these events:

*  In April

TOWN OF EMERALD - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating a large manure spill from the Emerald Sky Dairy in St. Croix County.

DNR officials confirmed that the spill on the town of Emerald farm occurred in late 2016 but was not reported until March 29, 2017.  According to DNR staff, the majority of the release is contained in a wetland area, downslope from the farm’s waste storage facility. The wetland drains through a ditch and enters a storm water pond about 1,200 feet away.
*  In March:
BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources responded to a 100,000-gallon manure spill at the James Kroll Farm on Finger Road in the Town of Humboldt, which is located in southeast Brown County...
"DNR has determined there is some risk of groundwater impact due to the dominant geology in area being shallow bedrock and advises private well owners to closely monitor water quality..." 
"Cleanup began early Tuesday. DNR and county staff arriving at the scene determined it was a larger, expanding spill and directed a more aggressive cleanup with more berms, sumps and pumping," says a statement from the DNR...
The manure flowed for about 3.5 miles, reaching the Luxemburg Road crossing. 
A couple of more observations:

*  The Department of Natural Resources  has been run since January, 2011 by managers with the Gov. Walker-directed, environmental-damaging, special;-interest serving and agency mission-destroying "chamber of commerce mentality".

Walker, through the DNR ,has intentionally and un-apologetically reduced pollution enforcement and inspections statewide, along with reductions in agency staffing and science expertise  - - even though it was well-known that drinking water contamination was a persistent Wisconsin health hazard in areas with the bedrock vulnerabilities like those referenced above in the March manure discharge - - all of which has led to a couple of grading, belated actions by the Walker administration that do not appear to be anywhere near assertive or remedial enough.

In fact, despite all the obvious evidence of need...
A manure discharge in Kewaunee County

 - - the DNR has no system in place to notify a municipality if a feedlot has had a manure discharge within its borders.

Laissez-faire = just don't care.

*  Several months, and very quietly, the DNR began offering bottled water  - - a la Flint, MI- - to neighbors of animal feeding farm businesses including those known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) in hard-hit Kewaunee County who were experiencing "brown water events.

My belief is that Walker set this in motion because he can't run for re-electiion with a strong rural base while his he and his DNR keep delaying action - - something, anything - - on a serious public health issue.

*  And just this week, Walkerites began advancing a tardy plan to limit, for the first time, the spreading of manure as fertilizer on farms in areas like Kewaunee County where the karst bedrock does enable the movement of pathogens into the groundwater.

Too little, too late?

I asked Lynn Utesch, a Kewaunee County farmer and activist in the grassroots group Kewaunee Cares - - along with his wife and public advocate  Nancy Utesch - - if he had any reaction to the manure spreading restrictions.

Utesch said while the change "will have some positive effects in karst regions, for those of us in northeast Wisconsin little will change until [CAFO regulation] is opened up and strengthened with new standards and enforcement." 

He also added some links to the history of a similar effort last year to elevate public groundwater health and safety above corporate special interests priorities' - - an effort that failed after Gov. Walker sandbagged it.

My reaction: No one hoping for basic change should get their hopes up if they read the information Utesch sent me, below:

*  Last year, a stronger measure went to Gov. Scott Walker:"
*  And that "stronger" measure was met with this by the DBA [Dairy Business Association:
*  And the Governor's response gutting the recommendations: 
I selected just this one blog post (the index at the upper left will provide dozens more) to offer additional information. 
Wisconsin is corporate heaven; less so for the less powerful


Anonymous said...

Hearing that DBA is already complaining to DNR secretary about these changes.

Raven said...

Is there a public-health, public-finance, or other public-good issue of any kind that this Wisconsin Republican Party-run government cannot bungle, or has not bungled already?