A Dairy farmer organization in Wisconsin is concerned about some proposed changes in manure application regulations.
John Holevoet with the Dairy Business Association says part of the proposed updates to NR151 regulations include limiting manure application in the Karst region if there’s less than 20 feet to bedrock to prevent groundwater contamination. He tells Brownfield determining where the rule would apply would be challenging. “We don’t have great mapping for any of the state, let alone the area that they’re talking about, to show 20-feet depths, so that’s one area where at least we’d like to see change and a recognition that at least for the time being, it doesn’t make sense to regulate to that depth. Maybe it would if we were willing to spend the time, effort, and money to do updated maps.”
Holevoet says the DBA would like to see regulations where bedrock is only five feet below the surface, but questions the need to regulate 20 feet of soil above bedrock. “We don’t know. There’s some things that kind of inconclusive on what that number should be, and so when we pick out these numbers that sound nice, five or twenty, it’s not as though they’re linked back to a scientific study that shows five or twenty would be most appropriate.”
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is holding a public hearing on the changes in Green Bay Friday. Holevoet encourages farmers to submit testimony in person or in writing.
Northeastern Wisconsin has several wells contaminated with high levels of nutrients from farms. DNR experts say much of the Karst bedrock is fractured, allowing surface applied materials to infiltrate the water table.