Fact Check

Thank you to a reader who brought an error in an earlier post called DAIRY AIR to our attention. We had mistakenly stated that there are 15 dairy CAFOs (Confined Animal Farming Operations) in Kewaunee County; there are actually 14 dairy CAFOs and 1 beef CAFO. Dairy CAFOs are defined has having 700 or more animal units.

The reader also said that CAFOs account for only 7 percent of all dairies in the county. That being the case, without knowing the source of that fact, these CAFOs house 31,466 cows according to DNR permit statistics. That’s 77% of the county herd. The UW Extension reports that the current dairy herd in Kewaunee County is 40,500 cows, a 7.5% increase from a year ago.

While we’re at it, let’s revisit the amount of manure produced by 31,466 cows. At 150 pounds of fecal/urine waste per day, total daily production is 4,719,900 pounds. When manure is applied to the land, the operator must abide by the following restrictions as stated in a WPDES Permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

3.7.1 General Spreading Restrictions

The permitee shall land apply manure and process wastewater in compliance with the following:

  • Manure or process wastewater may not pond on the application site.
  • During dry weather conditions, manure or process wastewater may not run off the application site, nor discharge to waters of the state through subsurface drains.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not cause the fecal contamination of water in a well.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not run off the application site nor discharge to waters of the state through subsurface drains due to precipitation or snowmelt except if the permitee has complied with all land application restrictions in NR 243 and this permit, and the runoff or discharge occurs as a result of a rain event that is equal to or greater than a 25-year, 24-hour rain event.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not be applied to saturated soils.
  • Land application practices shall maximize the use of available nutrients for crop production, prevent delivery of manure and process wastewater to waters of the state, and minimize the loss of nutrients and other contaminants to waters of the state to prevent exceedances of groundwater and surface water quality standards and to prevent impairment of wetland functional values. Practices shall retain land applied manure and process wastewater on the soil where they are applied with minimal movement.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not be applied on areas of a field with a depth to groundwater or bedrock of less than 24 inches.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not be applied within 100 feet of a direct conduit to groundwater.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not be applied within 100 feet of a private well or non-community system as defined in ch. NR 812 or within 1000 feet of a community well as defined in ch. NR 811.
  • Unless specified otherwise in this permit, where incorporation of land applied manure is required, the incorporation shall occur within 48 hours of application.
  • Manure or process wastewater may not be surface applied when precipitation capable of producing runoff is forecast within 24 hours of the time of planned application.
  • Manure may not be spread in a waterway, terrace channel or any areas where there may be a concentration of runoff.
  • Fields receiving manure and process wastewater may not exceed tolerable soil loss (“T”).
  • On high permeability soils (as defined in NRCS Standard 590) and fields where drain tile is present, permittees may not apply 20% more available nitrogen than the recommended nitrogen rate when legumes, manure and organic byproducts are used to meet the entire nitrogen requirement of the crop to be grown.

Compliance with a permit granted by the DNR is not voluntary, it’s mandatory. Interestingly, 3 of the 14 dairy CAFOs in our county are operating with expired permits(according to the DNR Permit Statistics).

The purpose of Kewaunee Cares is not to characterize anyone as environmental villains, but to scrutinize any actions that violate laws that exist to protect the air, land and water of Kewaunee County. If you witness anything that violates the laws regulating air, land and water pollution, please report it to the TIP-WDNR (1-800-847-9367) hotline. Also, report it to the Kewaunee County Sheriff’s office at 920-388-3100.  The Sheriff’s Department has authority and duty to enforce state laws.

Kewaunee Cares encourages citizens to take part in the protection of the quality of life in Kewaunee County. That may involve asking a neighbor to be a good neighbor by not polluting or reporting violations that occur right before your own eyes.

Thank you to all who read this blog and care about Kewaunee County’s future.

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