DNR says OK, Area Families File Legal Action
Algoma, WI – Families near the Town of Lincoln in Kewaunee County are fighting a WI-DNR decision to allow the expansion of an industrial livestock operation, with the capacity to produce 72 million gallons of liquid manure each year. The animal waste will be spread across the landscape in an area where many wells are already contaminated. Public health risks are significant, yet the DNR approved the permit before the technical specifications of the animal confinement building and a 76 million gallon, elevated manure lagoon were made available to them.
“My wife and I don’t want to be driven out, we’ve built our life here, but we can’t risk the health of our three children.” said Dan Routhieaux who has lived in his home for 17 years and is 160 feet away from where the expanded facility is to be built.
Yesterday, Midwest Environmental Advocates, an environmental law center in Madison, filed a legal action on behalf of families living near Kinnard Farms, challenging the DNR decision to issue their permit. The proposed expansion nearly doubles the current size of the Kinnard dairy facility.
People in the area are already suffering the impacts of living amidst one of the highest concentrations of industrial livestock factories in the world. “Water sampling by trained volunteers continually finds animal manure in area waters. The costs and burdens of protecting clean water and public health have been shifted to the people most at risk,” said Kimberlee Wright, Executive Director of Midwest Environmental Advocates.
UW-Stevens Point Groundwater Center database holds test results showing 42% of private wells to be contaminated with coliform bacteria and 24% that exceed safe drinking water standards for nitrates in the Town of Lincoln. “I’m worried about my neighbors. E Coli has been found in area wells and can cause serious illness in the elderly and young children. We should be protecting our groundwater for my children and grandchildren’s generations, not polluting it beyond repair,” said Lynda Cochart whose family has lived and farmed in the area for five generations.
Kewaunee County has thin soils over fractured bedrock, known as karst. DNR’s own study, Kewaunee River Watershed Water Quality Management Plan, updated in 2011, lists animal manure spreading as a major threat to drinking water. The report states, “These geologically sensitive areas have high bedrock and thins soils that have limited ability to filter surface water contaminates prior to entering drinking water aquifers.” Liquid animal manure often contains hormones, antibiotics, industrial cleansers and many pathogens with the potential to harm human health.
Midwest Environmental Advocates is a non-profit, environmental law center that provides legal and technical assistance to communities working to protect public health and the environment.