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Study finds Pinnacle site safe
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MONROE - New findings from an independent study commissioned by Pinnacle Dairy, the proposed 5,800-cow dairy, may tip in the mega farm's favor after a year of roadblocks during its application process.

Todd Tuls is the owner of Rock Prairie Dairy between Janesville and Delavan. Tuls used a mirror outline of the plans for Rock Prairie, which also holds more than 5,000 cattle, in his application to Green County. The site for the Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation has been plotted out along 127 acres of farmland along County FF and Decatur-Sylvester Road in the Township of Sylvester.

But the Tuls have encountered snags along the way. On May 26, after an incident between county workers and Pinnacle developers, Green County Conservationist Todd Jenson denied the permit application. It was reinstated on June 21 after Jenson met with Tuls; his son T.J. Tuls; owners of Carrousel Farms who are selling the land to the Tuls; lawyers for the farms; and representatives for both the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Prior to the disagreement, Pinnacle and county officials butted heads on plans for four manure lagoons to be constructed on the property, mainly the tests conducted at wells on the land and the distance from groundwater to the cement of the lagoons.

However, the Tuls family have had a boost in its plans. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Geology Department Chair Kent Syverson was hired by the farmers after being prompted by the Green County Department of Land and Water Conservation to conduct a study of the water conditions at the proposed site. Jenson told the Land and Water Conservation Committee during a meeting on Thursday that findings by Syverson indicated a "perched condition." Syverson said the upper water below the soil has no significant connection to the lower water source.

"It helps (Pinnacle)," Jenson said. "In a perched condition, they can engineer water to flow out with tile under the pits. If it's not perched, they have to be 2 feet above the groundwater level, or bedrock."

Opponents of the plan to pour roughly 600,000 square yards of cement for the CAFO cited contamination as cause for a call to the town board to deny the application. Based on concerns for public health, the township instituted a moratorium, which temporarily halted the building plans within the township while an ordinance regarding large-scale livestock siting was passed. That ordinance still sits under review with DATCP. The moratorium on new CAFO construction expired June 23.

The email said Syverson presented his findings, which were based on a review of all site assessment data, and said a main reason to believe the upper water is perched is due to a lack of "hydraulic response" during tests at the monitoring wells on site. DNR Water Resources Engineer Gretchen Wheat told Jenson she and another agent will need to review the new submittals before reaching a decision.

Jenson said the DNR officials expressed "hesitation" to agree with Syverson's data. Wheat said they would make a decision Aug. 12 regarding perched conditions.

Jenson said copies of contracts between Pinnacle Dairy LLC and the landowners outlining where manure from the farm will be spread throughout the county still have not been received.

After the DNR decision, the county has 30 days to rule on the permit application. A public informational meeting will be held by Green County for all residents, and in a following meeting, the county would either approve or deny the application.