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Wisconsin moves to protect groundwater with rules limiting manure spreading

DNR targeting 15 counties, including metro Milwaukee



After years of complaints about manure spreading and its potential to harm drinking water, state officials are advancing first-ever rules to limit animal waste on vulnerable soils of eastern Wisconsin.

The target of the proposed regulations is farmland that lies over fractured bedrock that, under the right circumstances, can serve as a conduit for pathogen-laden manure to soak into aquifers and taint drinking water.

After prodding from environmental groups and some rural residents, the Department of Natural Resources is targeting 15 counties, including those of metropolitan Milwaukee, for certain manure- spreading standards.

Tailoring runoff regulations by region is a first for Wisconsin. Such practices are currently regulated the same across the state.

The DNR has concluded that groundwater standards in eastern Wisconsin cannot be met with a one-size-fits set of regulations and that special actions must be taken in the region.

The final outcome is not clear. Last year, a stronger measure went to Gov. Scott Walker but was reworked after farm groups raised objections. The latest measure is expected to go the GOP-controlled Legislature by January and lawmakers could also raise objections.

On Monday, the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association offered a less than fullthroated endorsement.

In a statement, John Holevoet, director of government affairs, said his group is interested in “finding pragmatic solutions to the challenges of manure management. … We hope to remain involved in the process going forward. We want to ensure

See MANURE, Page 2D

A farmer applies manure to his fields.


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