Kewaunee County water quality discussed at joint EPA-DNR forum
LUXEMBURG – A Thursday meeting was intended to be a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) session for Kewaunee County residents to get answers to questions regarding recommendations developed by DNR workgroups to address groundwater issues in the county. The event became a forum for the different stakeholders in the work groups to express their views on the county’s groundwater problem.
After 10 months of meetings that yielded dozens of recommendations, the workgroup members could not agree on the number of cows in the county.
County Supervisor Lee Luft told more than 100 residents at the meeting that the county’s cow herd had grown to more than 100,000 cows, while Don Niles, a large dairy farm owner and head of the newly formed Peninsula Pride Farms group, said Luft’s number was wrong but didn’t provide a different number.
USDA Wisconsin 2015 Agricultural Statistics indicate 97,000 cattle and calves in Kewaunee County, a figure that includes cows, bulls, and calves as well as both dairy cattle and beef cattle.
“I can tell you that reaching consensus on these issues was not easy to do,” said DNR representative Russ Rasmussen.
Rasmussen gave a half-hour presentation on some of the more than 40 recommendations developed by the workgroups that ranged from new best management practices for farmers to short-term solutions to help people with contaminated wells. Residents were then asked to submit questions in writing to a panel of approximately 10 workgroup members.
Residents’ questions ranged from when emergency water would be provided to residents with contaminated wells to when a DNR enforcement specialist would be sent to the county.
Workgroup members included representatives from the agricultural community, environmental groups, government agencies and citizens groups. The workgroups were established by the DNR in August 2015 in response to concerns over contaminated drinking wells in Kewaunee and Door counties, as well as in response to a formal petition by citizens to the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act. More than 30 percent of tested wells in Kewaunee County are contaminated.
Tinka Hyde, director of the water division for EPA Region 5, said that her agency would continue to work with the DNR in Kewaunee County until the groundwater problems were addressed.
“The EPA is committed to work with folks to find creative solutions to help facilitate moving forward,” she said.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: Kewaunee County water quality discussed at joint EPA-DNR forum