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Kewaunee County takes step to addresses water quality

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Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors made their county the first in the state to limit use of manure irrigations systems with the passage of the Chapter 37 "Agriculture Waste and Process Wastewater Irrigation Ordinance Nov. 7.

According to a news release from Kewaunee County Administrator's Office, the vote was the product of months of work, including the formation of a technical workgroup. The group included the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Kewaunee County's Land and Water Conservation Department.

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"The vote on the revised ordinance would not have been possible without the support of so many concerned citizens who are working and speaking out for cleaner water and air here in Kewaunee County," says Kewaunee County Board Supervisor Lee Luft. "Please accept my sincere thanks and congratulations on this first-in-the-state manure irrigation ordinance and the protections it provides."

Luft spoke to St. Croix County Ground and Surface Water Quality Study Group in August about his county's struggle for clean water.

"By requiring these strict measures, I believe it is a tool that farmers can utilize while being protective of the public health concerns of the citizens," said Davina Bonness, director of Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department. "This practice will alleviate the nutrient application during the groundwater recharge times of spring and fall when wells are the most vulnerable to contamination."

The ordinance allows low pressure-drip irrigation at a height no greater than 18 inches to efficiently apply nutrients during the growing season.

"This ordinance puts another tool in the toolbox of dairy producers to be able to spread nutrients on a growing crop in summer instead of only spring or fall through multiple applications at lower rates to reduce the chance of having any issues with water quality," said Kewaunee County Board Supervisor John Pagel.

Kewaunee County Board Chairman Robert Weidner said this work is an example of what can be accomplished when people collaborate to address a community problem.

The Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department will administer, monitor and enforce the provisions of the ordinance, according to county administration.