Storm water retention ponds are designed to temporarily hold runoff after a storm and allow that water to gradually be absorbed by the soil. So when a storm water retention pond in Lincoln Township of Kewaunee County looked and smelled like manure, a nearby resident called the DNR to inspect it and take water samples. The DNR’s visual assessment: “the situation looks okay.” The DNR’s water sample test results: INVALID, because the sample didn’t get to the laboratory in time.
Fortunately, Kewaunee Cares was also called about the appearance and smell of this retention pond and a water sample was taken and analyzed by a certified laboratory. The fact that E. Coli bacteria and total coliform bacteria were discovered at levels declared to be “unsafe” by the testing lab is an indicator that water reaching the retention area was being contaminated by manure before it got to the holding area or that manure had reached the pond in some fashion other than runoff.
Despite this recent pollution incident, the DNR decided to reissue a WPDES permit to Kinnard Farms, also in Lincoln Township. In fact the approved permit now allows Kinnard dairy to expand from 5,800 animal units to 8,700 animal units. Plus it provides for 3 concrete-lined manure storage facilities with a total capacity of 76,353,880 gallons of liquid manure. However, based on the results from the Kewaunee Cares’ water sample from the aforementioned retention pond, the DNR made a change to the final permit. They say temporary control measures have been put in place (presumably to prevent manure from entering the retention pond) and an evaluation of the runoff control system has been added to the permit compliance schedule.
This is the second such incident in the last 6 months where DNR staff were called to inspect and sample a suspected pollution event in Kewaunee County and their samples were deemed INVALID because they couldn’t get the sample to the lab on time. If an independent organization can take samples–with legal access to the site–and get a viable sample analyzed by a certified lab, why can’t the state-run organization charged with protecting the state’s waters get it done correctly? Budget cuts and staffing shortages are not an excuse here. Perhaps Cathy Stepp, the appointed DNR Secretary can explain how this happens on her watch. We look forward to her response.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has failed to protect the citizens of Kewaunee County again. Allowing such expansion of CAFOs in an area already highly susceptible to ground water contamination is grossly negligent of their duties to protect the waters of the state. When area wells have already been contaminated, when a storm water retention pond is heavily contaminated with E. Coli bacteria, when is enough going to be ENOUGH? The DNR needs to start making decisions based on facts, common sense and without undo influence by the Dairy Business Association, the Farm Bureau and other wealthy contributors to one-sided political interests.