Thursday, February 6, 2020

Lack of alerts abets Wisconsin's dirty drinking water crisis

If justice delayed is justice denied, what do we call years of delay in simply setting up a system to get the word out to local officials that a feedlot is polluting nearby drinking water?

Case in point:

There has been recent reporting that the Wisconsin Legislature is finally close to implementing a system that would require the DNR to notify county officials within seven days if a health hazard has been detected.

The bill would also require the DNR to create a notification system for county health departments, county land conservation departments and residents who sign up for alerts of water standard violations.
Seven days? Why not seven minutes or seven hours?

But you say, well, this is still progress.

Until you realize that there was an uproar about the lack of required notifications which I wrote about in 2017:

Now the La Crosse Tribune is reporting that Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR has no policy in place to let people know that contamination is coming their way: 
Sadly, we need to keep expressing concerns about enforcement of clean water regulations, because the Tribune’s report last week on elevated nitrate levels near a huge hog operation in La Crosse County was very troubling — and the DNR’s response to the potential groundwater problem is embarrassing.
Babcock Genetics has a permit to raise more than 4,000 hogs in the town of Holland near Holmen. 
Since at least 2005, according to a report by the Legislative Audit Bureau, the nitrate levels measured in test wells near the hog operation have exceeded limits set by the state — as much as five times that limit as recently as 2010.  
Here’s what DNR spokesman Jim Dick told the Tribune: “The DNR doesn’t have a policy regarding notifying municipalities or private well owners in the vicinity when a CAFO violates a permit.”
I suspect that Kewaunee County clean water activist Nancy Utesch would say, as she did more than a year ago, and again several months ago, that this is more of what's way overdue:
Months ago, Kewaunee County clean water activist Nancy Utesch said enough was enough.
We asked the US Environmental Protection Agency for an investigation into the cause and source of well water contamination in our 2014 Safe Drinking Water Act petition, but the EPA has yet to address it... 
Central Sands has the Wysocki CAFO. We have 16 CAFOs. Wisconsin should long ago have stopped acting confused as to the cause and source of known, widespread contamination and moved instead to protect Kewaunee County residents and water resources of people statewide... 
Without real investigations, will we ever know the full extent and costs from the illness and suffering resulting from agribusiness here? 
Why has it taken this long?
We have waited long enough. 


Anonymous said...

As long as one-percenters aren't affected...

Katrina said...

Less than 1% of the CAFOs in the state have groundwater monitoring. If a private or public well has contamination there may be no proof it is linked to a CAFO. This bill isn't what it seems. If it were, the GOP wouldn't vote for it.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago I listened as a DNR employee stated at a public meeting that they could not just answer people's questions without an official "policy" in place. He stated that employees must have specific permission each time they take an action. I rose and asked him two questions. The first was whether the DNR has an official policy about them using the bathroom or do they choose between violating the "policy/non-policy" edict or just hold it until they go home. The second was if someone calls and during the conversation asks how the weather is in Madison that day do they make a choice between refusing to answer, asking a supervisor for permission to answer or just explaining that the DNR does not have a policy allowing employees to comment on the weather. I was told I was just being silly. Really? I'm the one being silly? I thought I showed my point rather well. That's not silly at all.

Anonymous said...

It gets even worse when you look at how murky the subject is of when the DNR has to notify the Wisconsin Dept. of Health. They hide behind words like "determination" and "finding" by saying they haven't made a "finding" etc. and are working through the process of obtaining more information. Since they are only required to notify when they have made a "determination" or "finding" then actual knowledge of contamination and public health risk can linger on a desk or in a drawer at DNR for years. It didn't always used to be this way. Over the last several decades DNR actually stands for "Do Not Report". Along with "Do Not Restrict".

Anonymous said...

"What do we call *years *of delay in simply setting up a system to get the word out to local officials that a feedlot is polluting nearby drinking water."

Answer: Republican/Koch/Putin/Walker/Trump's method to literally killing those they deem "useless eaters." Yes, this is what Hitler talked about too.

And they want to kill people by taking away access to healthcare, force workers to work beyond the years most can safely perform their jobs, crash the global economy which wipes out the savings and investments of common people (as in W's great depression), and accelerate climate change by blocking any action while it would have been possible to minimize damage already done.

Unfortunately, no one with a D after their name is willing to tell the truth -- this is all about the health and safety of children, families to the point of life-and-death. Republicans advocate policies that kill people.

Does anyone remember how Scott Walker literally killed people with the LogistiCare scam?


But remember, Scott Walker, with MJS/WTMJ Hate Radio, began his career killing a boy walking to Summerfest with his family through irresponsible and deadly budget cuts.

The deaths on I94 as Fox CON highway construction was done on-the-cheap literally killed people with some of the most horrific traffic accidents imaginable.

Anonymous said...

These people, in CAFO parts of the state, voted for this. They overwhelmingly supported Scott Walker and a slew of republican legislators. This was Trump county.

Sorry, but I hope they drink, bath, and cook with feces-contaminated water long enough that they will always remember that this is the Republican agenda.

Hopefully, this will not take too long and they will vote for Democrats to bring some sanity back to Wisconsin. Only then do I hope they have fresh clean water again.

But let's be real here. The CAFOs are not going to go away. Small family farmers are not going be able to get back in the business. Land passed down from generation-to-generation is permanently gone. Some voted away their family's heritage. They are not entitled to my support. They deserve no public money.

They are not entitled to getting land back regardless of how long it was stolen from Native Americans.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest failings of the DNR's CAFO and the DATCP's nutrient management programs is that they never have had groundwater professionals in those programs. They never saw the need to protect groundwater sources of drinking water. Wells and drinking water staff are located in a completely different DNR division and have no authority over land use near wells. It's a ridiculous situation that likely will never be resolved given that all policy in this area is driven by agronomists instead of groundwater experts.