Two weeks ago, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt approved the state Department of Natural Resources’ issuance of permits for a large and controversial dairy farm in Central Wisconsin. But he also reduced the amount of water the farm could pump from proposed high-capacity wells and required the DNR to consider the impact of the withdrawals in conjunction with other, nearby wells — a concept known as cumulative impacts.
A proposal to ban waste spreading in winter and early spring on fields with shallow soil is facing opposition from powerful agricultural interests and questions about its legality.
Two new studies of private well water in Kewaunee County have linked contamination to fertilizer, livestock manure and human waste. “In these shallow bedrock areas, what you put on the surface, you will end up drinking eventually,” county conservationist Andy Wallander said.
Since 2001, manure digesters have been popping up across the state. Wisconsin now has 34, the most in the nation, with two more scheduled to begin operating by 2015. In all these digesters, bacteria eat biomass like manure, food scraps or whey and emit energy in the form of methane gas.