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Letter to the editor: It's our water - protect it
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From David Vogel


To the editor:

Wisconsin has become targeted by industrial CAFO factory farms as an ideal place to set up business. With Green County's plentiful clean water and lax environmental state regulations, our local farmers are facing off against out-of-state corporate investors who profit from these oversize facilities. There are currently 40-plus CAFO permit applications being fast-tracked through the state's Department of Natural Resources system and local county governance.

Sylvester Township recently passed a 6-month moratorium on the siting of Large Dairy Farms on land susceptible to water pollution from proposed CAFO factory farms. This allows time for local governance to examine cases of contaminated ground and surface water that Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations have historically created when sited on permeable soil or near streams and lakes. The county needs to fulfill its right to enact county-wide ordinances that limit the size and locations of CAFO's per the Green County Preservation Plan of 2012: Protecting natural areas, including wetlands, wildlife habitats, lakes, woodlands, open spaces, and environmental corridors.

I attended the Sept. 8 Green County Board meeting and was surprised that county supervisors were unaware of their right to enact local ordinances. Harvey Mandel (First Vice-Chair, District 12) spoke on the issue: "We had a good policy," he said, referring to the county's previous ordinance that restricted large-scale dairies to 750 animals. "But the state took that away from us, and the county can't make ordinances more restrictive."

In Wisconsin, counties and townships can, and have already, made more restrictive CAFO ordinances if there is reasonable evidence of pollution to the water, air or land. The DNR can enforce regulations to a minor extent, but only after a polluting spill or groundwater contamination has taken place.

The proposal by Nebraska-based businessman Todd Tuls is for a 5,500-cow mega-CAFO sited on Carousel properties located on Searles Creek, which flows to the Sugar River and Decatur Lake. At 80 million gallons of anaerobic waste spread as fertilizer, and 105,850,000 gallons of water sucked up annually, the use of high capacity wells of this size and location predictably lower the water table, forcing area residents to drill their own wells deeper.

I'm calling on my county supervisor (Arthur Carter, Board Chair, District 16) to take action to help us protect our water. More information on clean water is available at