Court Date Set

12/31/2017 at 11:59 pm

Friends and Neighbors,

The date is set, January 11th, 2018 our case against Wysocki will be heard in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Although this news broke quite a while back, there was the chance for extension requests and/or other delays, therefore, we kept silent on the news until we were positive the date would stick. It officially appears January 11th will be our day in court.

Cases in front of the Supreme Court follow a very formal and structured format. Due to this, Saratoga’s legal team has asked that citizen supporters NOT attend the oral argument proceedings. We ask all our followers please adhere to the legal teams request and continue to wait patiently for the outcome and judgment decision to be handed down later this spring. Most likely we will not hear a deciding judgment until March or April of this year. Once again, we have more waiting ahead.

It is important to clarify the basis of the Supreme Court case as we continue to hear many residents misunderstanding what our current case is about. The case before the Supreme Court is about vested rights to the thousands of acres of land Wysocki purchased in Saratoga. In a very simplistic nutshell, the court will be deciding if Wysocki can clear-cut and crop the thousands of acres of land he purchased after Saratoga’s zoning was in place. The court is not determining if Wysocki has the right to build the buildings and/or the CAFO, simply if he has the right to use the land for his identified purpose which is in conflict with Saratoga's zoning. This battle has been a very complicated web of twist and turns, surely one for the record books.

We will keep everyone informed as we continue through the next few months.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Appeal

9/20/2017 at 9:35 am

By now many have heard the whispers or read the Facebook posts announcing the news of the Wisconsin Supreme Court deciding to hear the Wysocki/Saratoga case. We apologize for the delay in sharing information, as your core team, we felt it imperative to be 100% sure of our information prior to posting the news.

It has been confirmed that the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Wysocki appeal. Our fight has not changed its course other than the Wysocki's case against our town will be reviewed.  Although we had hoped for a different outcome, this is not really a surprise.

The case has not yet received a hearing date.  We will keep supporters updated on scheduling or other news as it becomes available.

State Appellate Court Rules In Saratoga's Favor

4/19/2017 at 10:29 am

Many of you have heard the news about the State Appellate Court decision which recently was released in Saratoga's favor against the Wysocki organization. However, many are left wondering "What does it all mean?"  Here is our short version breakdown of information (minus all the lawyer lingo).

• 2012 Wysocki's applied for the building permit on the approx. 100 acre parcel off Highway 13 & Tower Rd, in the permit they noted 6300 acres they were hoping to utilize for agricultural crop lands

• Saratoga denied the building permit, 4 months later the town of Saratoga's zoning was passed

• In the meantime, Wysocki brought suit against Saratoga for denying the building permits indicating they had "vested rights" to the land since they applied for building permits prior to zoning

• Judge Eagon from Portage County sided with Wysocki forcing Saratoga to hand over building permits, Wysocki had not yet purchased the lands (purchase eventually occurred in Dec. 2015)

• Saratoga appealed to the State Appellate Court (Nov. 2015) regarding the 6300 acres and objecting to claims of "vested rights" to the proposed crop lands

• April 13, 2017 the State Appellate Court rendered its decision in Saratoga's favor stating although the Wysocki group had established vested rights to the initial 100 acres in which building permits were applied, they DID NOT have vested rights for the additional 6300 acres.

What this currently means is that the Wysocki's could attempt to move forward with the construction of the CAFO if granted proper permits through the WDNR. However, currently they can NOT use the 6300 acres spread throughout Sarataga to rid themselves of the massive amounts of manure the CAFO would produce.

WDNR personnel were contacted regarding the Appellate Court decision and stated if the Wysocki's could no longer use the Saratoga lands for manure spreading they would need to find alternate land and notify WDNR of such properties for the permitting process to continue.

In a nutshell, we are once again in a holding pattern with the Wysocki's as they have 30 days to decide if they will appeal the State Appellate Courts decision which would then bump the case up to the WI State Supreme Court.

Although this is not the end of our battle with the Wysocki's,  IT IS A HUGE WIN for our community. Supplied below are numerous links to media blasts and news reports regarding the announcement as well as the actual court documents.

Mega-dairy's future in question after ruling 
Channel 7 Report
Court of Appeals Decision dated and filed April 13th
Town of Saratoga Press Release

Town Meeting Round 2

12/7/2016 at 10:50 pm

Many Rome & Saratoga residents missed the town meeting on November 15th.  We understand it was in direct conflict with another important meeting already scheduled in Rome and we realize the unforeseen printing and mailing snafu caused many to be made aware of the meeting days after the event took place. It was a laundry list of unfortunate occurrences that led up to Nov. 15th date causing the late notice to residents.  We sincerely apologize for those who received notices late or who had prior commitments and could not attend.

Saratoga's attorney Paul Kent, and Hydrologist John Jansen provided new information important to all of us living in the area of the proposed CAFO.  The Rome Concerned Citizen's group will be showing a video of key portions of the Saratoga experts' presentations, along with presentation of their key slides and updates intended to show how this directly affects Rome.

Attendees will learn:

  • Status of the ongoing vested rights legal court case
  • Key points of dispute in the Wysocki Environmental Impact Report
  • How groundwater flows in our area
  • How many of your wells may be affected by high capacity wells
  • How quickly nitrates leach through sandy soils
  • Current nitrate leaching issues at the Wolosek property on Hwy 13 & Tower Rd and at the existing Armenia CAFO
    • How that translates to wells around the proposed CAFO
  • Groundwater nitrate modeling and the issues with the Wysocki proposal
  • Where do we go from here?
    • EIS expected date and timing
    • EIS rebuttal process
    • Permitting following EIS completion
    • Contested hearings regarding permits

For folks who will not be able to attend this event and missed the one on the 15th, please feel to access the Saratoga town webpage for a copy of slides presented which are linked HERE.

New Saratoga Ordinances Pass

12/7/2016 at 10:44 pm

Throughout this fight our Protect Wood County group, in conjunction with our Rome friends, town board, and town's legal team, have investigated numerous types of ordinances and legal avenues in which to fight the proposed Wysocki CAFO.

Here is extending a huge THANK YOU to the town board and legal team for constructing and implementing another ordinance aimed at protecting our local ground water. Always know, just because announcements aren't coming out at rapid fire pace does not mean actions are not being investigated behind the scenes.

Written copies of the new ordinances are not yet available on the town website; I will share the link once they are officially posted. For an overview of one of the ordinances, feel free to check out the link provided below which is an article written by Lee Bergquist, from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. We continue to make headlines all over the state!

DNR Weighing Large Dairy Project


10/6/2016 at 9:41 pm

If You Do Not Want To Hear About Politics - SKIP THIS SECTION

First off, I must say "Thank You" to the folks who may not agree with our endorsement of political candidates but have RESPECTFULLY discussed individual points of view through email or by phone. Your willingness to converse on the issue in a respectful manner is extremely appreciated.  I wish I could say this is how everyone has behaved.

Our core leadership team has chosen to endorse David Gorski for 72nd Assembly and Julie Lassa for Senate District 24 - not because we are all Democrats (believe me, we are not).  We chose to endorse these candidates because the election on November 8th is not about a vote for a Republican or a Democrat, it is a vote for Clean Water and Environmental Protections.

Our leadership team weighed the pros and cons at length, held numerous discussions, and eventually made the decision to endorse. We reached 100% consensus within our multi-partisan group and we stand proudly by our decision to endorse Gorski & Lassa.

As always, if you are interested in helping with either campaign or recieving updates directly from individual political camps regarding events or fundraising gatherings, please get on their individual email lists by accessing the following links.

Julie Lassa                                                    David Gorski                                     committeetoelectDaveGorski
Facebook                                                      Facebook                

Deny the Golden Sands CAFO Petition

10/6/2016 at 9:38 pm

Many of you that have been with us from the very beginning may remember the petition started long ago titled "Deny the Golden Sands CAFO".  Over the course of years the number of supporters and followers to our cause has grown exponentially.  With that realization, it was determined that we should once again circulate the petition to catch more folks who may not have been with our group when it made the rounds the first couple times.

Don't remember if you signed it previously?  No worries!  We have the ability to delete duplicate entries - so if in doubt - re-sign!

Please Note - at the end of the petition you may be directed to a page that request a donation. SIMPLY CLICK OFF THIS PAGE.  Donations made at the site DO NOT come to our group but to the petition designers.  There is no need to donate.

Click HERE to access the Petition

DNR Permits 3 High Capacity Wells Requested by Scott Kotlowski

10/6/2016 at 9:36 pm

Many of you have been following updates provided regarding the 3 high capacity wells (HCW) applied for by Scott Kotlowski across the Wood/Portage County line (Cty U).  These well applications are for the fields on which Wysocki dumped his manure this past Spring and where clear cutting is currently occurring on the corner of Cty U & Hwy 73.

Although we were guaranteed early on by DNR representatives these specific wells would not be permitted until after the Wysocki project was determined, we were notified last week that they indeed signed off on the HCW permits.  Additionally, we also have learned that Wysocki has purchased two of the parcels making the HCW permits under his ownership and under the business heading of Agri-Alliance LLC. Can anyone else smell a crooked stinking rat?

This is incredibly frustrating for all closely watching this situation as we have recieved through Open Records the stream flow data gathered over the past four years indicating clearly how the HCWs severely impact the stream flow of our 10 Mile Creek.  During the agricultural growing season when irrigation is occurring across the county line (on Wysocki fields) our 10 Mile stream flow is significantly impacted.  Due to these concerns I created a document requesting an Environmental Assessment be done on these specific wells, unfortunately it was blatantly and outright denied by the DNR.

We are not done fighting the permitting of these wells and are currently weighing our options.  Our next step is yet to be determined - stay tuned for further updates.

Blue Green Algae

8/2/2016 at 10:12 am

Concerned Rome Citizens,

3 of our 4 lakes in Rome are on the state's impaired list because of high phosphorous levels. Petenwell, even more pollutants.  The 14 Mile Creek watershed is the primary source of water for Camelot, Sherwood and Arrowhead, which eventually empties into Lake Petenwell. Phosphorous and nitrogen are the primary cause of blue green algae, and stagnant, or slow moving water allow the growth of blue green algae. See the DNR website below for health impacts.  Again, we are seeing warning signs posted at area boat launches, with some residents reporting heavy algae blooms much like those seen on Lake Petenwell at the marina.

One would think protection of these lakes would be a high priority for our town board.  After all, the vitality of the town is built around these lakes.  This is not a new problem, though it's becoming more widespread.  But, our town leaders are pretty much silent regarding existing upstream watershed issues and future concerns of the proposed CAFO, even threw up roadblocks when we tried to hold education sessions for town property owners.  It's as if our lake quality issues have become the "elephant in the room" when Rome's recreational future is discussed.  Can't imagine life in the Town of Rome if these lakes become unusable.

If you care about these lakes as we do, contact town board members and tell them you want a serious discussion with town government and TriLakes about the future of our lakes, including an investigation of upstream issues by qualified experts and an action plan to clean up and protect our lakes.  It should not be up to a small group of concerned citizens to attack these issues that could have such a profound effect on our future.  As these lakes go, so goes the town.


Bob Benkowski, Don Ystad, Steve Raap, Rick Antin, John Endrizzi, and Rick Georgeson

Heart Wrenching Video

8/1/2016 at 10:05 pm

For those of us who have been in this fight from the beginning, it has been a long and emotional 4 years. 4 years of frustration, long hours of travel, thousands of meetings, and complete mental and physical exhaustion.

However, there has also been life long friendships made. Friendships that span many miles across our beautiful Wisconsin countryside. Connections that will not diminish and fade when this fight finally comes to an end.

Thank you Eric Peterson for producing such a heart wrenching video that brought me to tears. And thank you to all our brave citizen warriors across WI who are standing up and fighting back.
Together we are strong!

Please share this video far and wide.

Cranberry Festival Parade

6/21/2016 at 10:36 pm

Words can not adequately express my sincere appreciation for those who volunteered their time to plan, organize, donate, construct, and walk alongside our parade entry this year.

It does not matter if you were there every step of the way or only able to donate an hour - every second counted. We had folks alongside us from Saratoga, Rapids, Rome, Big Flats, Port Edwards, and even Germantown WI & Geneva IL. All coming together to share the message.

I was truly in awe of everyone's willingness to pitch in and the number of volunteers who came to assist. I am so thankful for each and every one of you.

Please feel free to share the video far and wide.

Lack of Well Regulation Drains Small Lakes

6/19/2016 at 11:18 pm

Via Green Bay Press Gazette:

The signs atop the boat landing on Long Lake east of Plainfield make even the most optimistic visitor smirk with irony.
“Long Lake. No Wake.”
“Advise Catch and Release.”
The landing is a forsaken remnant of Long Lake’s past. No one launches boats anymore on what’s now a marsh in northwestern Waushara County. The signs should read: “Long Puddle. Walk Slowly. Bring Your Own Fish.”
Even with roughly six inches of rain the past month, Long Lake is barely navigable. And it no longer sustains a fishery. Granted, this “seepage” lake needed aeration each winter to provide oxygen for fish during its heyday. But the aerators are gone, too. The lake hasn’t been worth fishing since about 2007, when anglers last enjoyed what was a designated trophy lake for largemouth bass.
And even if Long Lake’s shallow waters held fish today, they’d be hard to reach. Piers of lakefront homeowners sit high and dry, their ends so far ashore you couldn’t cast far enough to reach water.
Scientists who study aquifers, groundwater and hydrological matters aren’t surprised at Long Lake’s decline, nor similar marshlands directly west called Plainfield Lake. Nor are they surprised by the ever-growing grassy shorelands on Huron Lake a couple of miles east of Long Lake.
The poor conditions of these lakes, much like Little Plover River to the north, are what the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey predicted in 1970 when assessing the impacts of high-capacity wells in this region called the “Central Sands.” This is what happens when you let agricultural businesses pump about 100 billion gallons of groundwater annually with little regard for nature or neighbors.
And this is what will happen with increasing regularity to lakes and streams across Wisconsin if our courts and lawmakers don’t restore the state’s constitutional safeguards for our public waters. The Department of Natural Resources abandoned those duties June 10 by waving its hall pass from Attorney General Brad Schimel.
Full Article 

State audit finds DNR ignoring own rules on water pollution

6/6/2016 at 11:21 pm


Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday.
From 2005 to 2015, there was a general decline in state Department of Natural Resources enforcement activity to protect lakes, streams and groundwater from large livestock farms, factories and sewage treatment plants that discharge liquid waste, according to the bureau’s 124-page report.
During a period when elected officials from both political parties have decreased DNR staffing, notices of violations were issued to polluters in just 33 of 558 instances serious enough for such citations under DNR policies, the audit found.
The DNR’s record of meeting its goals for inspections of polluting facilities every two to three years has been uneven, with the standard being met for fewer than half of the places many years. And some inspections of concentrated animal feeding operations — 6.5 percent of the total — took place after the agency reissued the farm’s permits instead of before, a violation of state and federal law aimed at ensuring CAFOs keep their huge quantities of manure out of water, auditors said.
Much enforcement is based on compliance reports polluters are supposed to file annually, but auditors found that DNR staff didn’t have time to fully review the reports. Only 36 of 1,900 CAFO reports were electronically recorded as having been received by DNR field offices, making it impossible for supervisors to spot problems.
“The report provides a pretty damning assessment,” said Sarah Geers, a staff attorney for Midwest Environmental Advocates, a public interest law firm that has challenged the DNR to improve its performance. “A lot needs to be done.”
Full Article 

State help sought on Wood County water quality

6/6/2016 at 11:16 pm

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune 
Some Wood County officials are hoping to enlist help from state lawmakers to address concerns about water and air pollution in central Wisconsin. 
“We’re trying to influence state legislation,” Wood County Board member Bill Leichtnam said. 
Leichtnam is among several board members and numerous citizens concerned about the prospect of a proposed large-scale dairy farm in Saratoga, including its use of high-capacity wells and the potential for manure run-off and groundwater contamination. 
State law principally regulates water quality and does not give explicit authority to counties to do the same, according to Wood County lawyer Peter Kastenholz.
But that's where Leichtnam sees an opportunity: He hopes to set up meetings with members of the Republican-controlled state Legislature to advocate for regulations that ensure water and air are protected from pollution of any sort. 
The proposed farm, which would be called Golden Sands Dairy, is slated to have 5,300 cows and is expected to produce 55 million gallons of liquid manure each year, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. It could have as many as 33 high-capacity wells, each of which can draw more than 100,000 gallons of water a day and increasingly are used in agriculture to irrigate crops.
Full Article 

DNR Study On Little Plover River Presented at UW-Stevens Point

4/13/2016 at 9:05 pm

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- State legislators and curious citizens gathered at the Michelsen Concert Hall on the UW-Stevens Point campus Tuesday night to hear the findings of a study from the DNR on the Little Plover River and the effect of high capacity wells on its water flow.
The findings were preliminary, but they confirmed what many already believed.  After the heaviest usage of the high capacity wells in place now during the summer months, the study simulated the water table returning to its normal level quickly, but the river itself never returned to its original flow levels with the annual frequency of the pump usage.  The high capacity wells would have to be stopped for more than a year for the river flow levels to go back to their original state.
Dr. Ken Bradbury of the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey and Dr. Mike Fienen of the United States Geological Survey presented their findings from the DNR sponsored study.  Bradbury said the state suffers overall from a relatively flat water table, making the smallest change have a larger impact.
"This change in the water table up here a little bit can start affecting the stream. That's why we see this happening in central Wisconsin, because our landscape is so flat, we don't have a lot of topography on the landscape," said Bradbury.
Full Article

Death by a Thousand Straws (AB 874)

2/16/2016 at 5:30 pm

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters' Statement
By Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters    - Feb 16th, 2016 12:09 pm
Death by a Thousand Straws (AB 874)

MADISON, WI — Today, the Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry held an executive session committee vote on Death by a Thousand Straws, AB 874. The high capacity well bill was voted out of committee by a 7-6 vote, and will be on the floor of the full Assembly on Thursday. In response, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Executive Director, Kerry Schumann, issued the following statement:

“From the start, the intent of the Death by a Thousand Straws Bill has been clear. Big Ag has lobbied legislators to advance the interests of their thirsty clients at the expense of the state’s valuable groundwater and the many people who rely on it.

Today, in the year 2016, there are people whose drinking water wells are running dry and lakes and rivers are drying up because high capacity wells are over pumping our groundwater supply. Yet, Death by a Thousand Straws moves forward and heads to the floor of the Assembly later this week.

We are very concerned that, despite an outpouring of opposition from thousands of Wisconsinites, including many who are directly impacted by loss of groundwater, legislators chose to listen to special interests rather than their constituents. We have a real groundwater crisis in this state and Death by a Thousand Straws not only refuses to address this problem – it makes it so we can never reach a commonsense, bipartisan solution.

The people of Wisconsin – especially those affected by careless and irresponsible groundwater management – deserve better.”

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters was disappointed to see Representatives Mursau, Krug, Czaja, Kitchens, Swearingen, Edming, and R. Brooks vote in favor of AB 874 during the executive session committee vote. Representatives Mason, Milroy, Hebl, Stuck, Considine, and Allen voted against the bill.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is calling on members of the Assembly to stand in opposition to Death by a Thousand Straws and with their constituents who have taken action thousands of times and urged their decision makers to vote no on this bill.

Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources.

You can follow legislation impacting natural resources on our Conservation Vote Tracker, a real-time accountability tool that provides you with a complete picture of what conservation issues are in play and how legislators are performing:

Radio Program July 30

7/22/2015 at 10:52 pm

Members of our group, Bill Leichtnam, Don Ystad and Rhonda Carrell will be doing a 1 hour broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio), The Ideas Network FM Station 89.1 on a program called Route 51 with host Glen Moberg. Although we have had airtime on public radio in the past we have never before been offered a 1 hour spot. This is a significant opportunity.

Not only will we be able to continue to spread the word about our battle, it is a wonderful avenue to educate the masses about the environmental devastation the proposed CAFO to Saratoga would bring if it should establish in our a community.

The Wysocki organization has demonstrated a blatant disregard for our concerns and the concerns of surrounding communities who will also be affected. We are very grateful and excited for the opportunity to share with a larger audience our deep concerns and objections to this project.

Be sure to tune in July 30th at 10am on FM Station 89.1 The Ideas Network.

Television Feature July 29

7/22/2015 at 10:48 pm

Recently our group was contacted by Channel 7 who is planning to do a feature story on our battle against the proposed CAFO. We have tried repeatedly to get media attention on our issue so having them contact us about a story was great news! Finally getting the news stations attention means that we are making waves across the area and have been deemed newsworthy. Hopefully this will be the first of many feature stories.

Meetings are scheduled and taping of the segment will be occurring this week. The air date will be Wednesday July 29 at 10:00pm.

This again will help us spread the word and educate the masses as to what the proposed CAFO to Saratoga will do to both our community and the surrounding communities we rely on.

Signs Available

7/22/2015 at 10:43 pm

Friends and Neighbors,

Our pink cow crew has been busy painting new signs and erecting Burma Shave signs across our area. Below is a random selection of yard signs currently available for a small donation of only $35.  We currently have about 30 signs available and are looking to get these out in the community and in visible locations.

Signs will be on a first come first serve basis only and will be ready for pick up by Thursday July 23rd.

If interested in giving one of these lovely ladies a home please be in touch to arrange a time to look through available signs and pick your favorite.

New Signs

7/19/2015 at 10:44 pm

About a week ago I put out a call to our extended group for donations to support the construction of some new signs.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I say thank you to the numerous folks who assisted with their donations. Our new Burma Shave signs (4 signs placed 50 yrds apart that state a message) are now secured and in place.

Unfortunately, my camera didn't take a very good snap shots so you will have to drive by and check them out. The new signs can be observed on Hwy 73 across from the town hall and Hwy 13 toward Rome.

Again, without your willingness to assist, the creation and placement of these signs would not have occurred.  Thank you to everyone that played their part.

A special Thank You to our new volunteer sign committee for all their hard work.  The new signs look great!

Armenia Nitrate Readings

7/1/2015 at 9:03 pm

Concerned citizens,

This is disturbing. These are the same people who propose to build an 8,000 acre, 5,130 cow dairy CAFO in Saratoga. They indicate the Saratoga CAFO will be based upon the Central Sands CAFO they already own in Armenia, just across the Petenwell from us. Why is this disturbing? Nitrate is a form of nitrogen that, if greater than 10Mg/l in drinking water, can dangerously reduce the amount of oxygen in the blood of infants under six months old (blue baby syndrome) and may also harm the unborn. Experts say that neither babies nor the elderly should drink or bathe in water having nitrates greater that 10 Mg/l - the DNR enforcement level. Nitrate is a common contaminant from fertilizers, septic systems and animal wastes.

The attached test results from monitoring wells around the CAFO in Armenia show nitrate readings as high as 62.5 Mg/l - that's over 6 times the DNR allowable level. Armenia is a rural, farming area with only a few residences around the CAFO, so the effects are felt by just a few. Compare that to the Rome and Saratoga area where hundreds of residents are right next door to the planned CAFO, and nearly 1500 resident private drinking water wells (most of them in Rome) are within the cone of depression of the planned high cap wells. So, not only are our wells at risk of nitrate contamination, our water levels may drop as well.

If you've been silent regarding this issue, you may want to rethink your priorities where this proposed CAFO is concerned. Once it's here, you won't stop it. Keep up on this issue through the following and take action when asked to do so. Your future depends on it.


Yard Signs

5/25/2015 at 3:52 pm

As promised in earlier emails we were able to order new yard signs for those in need. They have arrived and are ready for new homes. If winter winds destroyed your signs or you are looking for your first, they are ready for pick up.

There is a limited supply of blue and white signs available and a fresh order of the NO CAFO signs just came in. Looking forward to watching them pop up all over the community.

To get your yard signs visit the contact us page.

Parade Time - Volunteers Wanted

5/25/2015 at 3:47 pm

For the past two years we have entered a float in the Cranberry Blossom Parade and this year will be no different. Once again we are looking for volunteers to walk the parade route with our float and hand out flyers.

We never seem to have enough volunteers and overall construction tends to fall on those of us who are already burning the candle at both ends. So again we ask that anyone willing to put in a few hours of volunteer time to please connect with us as soon as possible. A little time from a few helps greatly to relieve the pressure from others.

Individuals willing to spend a few hours meeting to brainstorm float ideas are welcome to get in touch. Here is a friendly reminder of all the fun!

2014 Parade Float

2013 Parade Float

Good News From The DNR

5/25/2015 at 3:38 pm

I have repeatedly put everyone on notice to expect the DNR to make public their draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) this coming June. We have kept in close contact with DNR folks and have now come to learn that the Wysocki group is again delaying their response to questions posed from the DNR regarding their Environmental Impact Report (EIR). This affects the entire process from moving forward and continues to delay all types of decisions.

Most recent communications indicate that the EIS could be delayed until late summer. The Water Use section is still unclear and constructed models need more time to run as well as other aspects that can not be completed until the Wysocki group supplies requires answers to given questions. So as always … we continue to be in a holding pattern waiting for word that things are moving.

Every day of delay is a positive for us and one more day we have held back the devastation proposed for our community. Stand united and keep up the line of opposition.

Water Testing Update

5/25/2015 at 3:36 pm

As many of you know we completed a huge water testing event at the beginning of May. All 231 sample kits were delivered to the UW Lab and preliminary results show exactly what we in this area already know, Saratoga water is of pristine quality.

When speaking with lab personnel they shared that typically for an event of this size it is normal to have about 20% of water samples test positive for bacteria contamination. In our case only 2 out of 200 samples tested positive - that is only 1% instead of the typical 20%. Another brick in the wall of opposition for the proposed dairy.

For those currently on the waiting list for a second event, plans have changed slightly. The UW can not handle another large scale event at this time so instead we will be doing a weekly distribution/drop off of 25-30 samples weekly starting mid June. I have everyone's contact information and a handful of new volunteers so rest assured we will get the water testing done for all that are wanting to participate.

If there are any last minute folks wanting to get on the waiting list for water testing please email over your information as soon as possible. Keep your eyes posted for upcoming announcements.

Water Testing Outcome

5/3/2015 at 10:06 pm

Dear Concerned Citizens,

I wanted to take a quick moment to send out our heartfelt thank you to all who participated in this weeks water event. I am so proud and humbled at the response from our residents to preserve and protect our water and our extended community.

We successfully distributed and collected 231 water samples kits from Saratoga and the surrounding area. Due to the high number of interested parties we were unable to accommodate all who wanted to participate. Therefore we will be hosting an additional event once a date can be arranged with the UW testing facility. We already have 120 individuals on the waiting list.

Again, THANK YOU for your support and activism.

This event would not have been possible without the numerous hours logged by a wonderful group of volunteers. Words can not describe the teamwork that went into planning for such an event. As we again are faced with the reality of a repeat performance we ask that any willing individuals wishing to assist to please volunteer.

Water Testing Event

4/26/2015 at 10:45 pm

The community water testing event is ready for kick-off this coming week. As we continue to battle the proposed Wysocki CAFO it is essential for ALL residents to establish a baseline for their residential water wells. We strongly encourage that if you did not get your water tested previously that you take advantage of this great opportunity. If you have had your water tested but it was over 1 year ago we encourage you to do it again to establish that consistent baseline over time.

For those that have already completed a new test independently, we would greatly appreciate a copy of your test results as we continue to gather and construct a community wide picture of our water in this area. These results will also be shared with necessary enforcement agencies to be made part of the public record. If willing to share, please drop off a copy of results at the Saratoga Business Office or send to our P.O. Box @ Protect Wood County & Its Neighbors P.O. Box 1532, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54495-1532

Pick up water test kits
Thursday April 30th through Saturday May 2nd
Location - Saratoga Business Office (small building by town hall)
Time - 8 AM- 4 PM daily

Drop-off water samples
Sunday May 3rd
Location - Saratoga Business Office (small building by town hall)
Time - 8 AM- 5 PM

To gauge interest and assist in our ability to be as prepared as possible, please complete the attached form if planning to participate. We ask that you complete the form as soon as possible. This does not commit you to participate, but does allow us to be prepared with appropriate quantities of test kits, as well as allow us to notify the UWSP Lab for what to expect.

Water Testing Participation Form

Tests Available

$16.00 Nitrate Only - This test will measure the nitrate level ONLY in your water sample - No additional elements will be tested.

$26.00 Nitrate and Chloride Only - This test will measure both nitrates and chloride. According to the UWSP Lab, changes in chloride levels can also indicate changes with nitrates and land use.

$49.00 Homeowners Package - This test measures numerous aspects of your water such as nitrates, chloride, conductivity, total hardness, alkalinity, pH and bacteria. Conductivity, hardness and alkalinity also are useful for demonstrating there has been a change in water quality.

Other more extensive tests are available for those who are interested - information can be found at the UWSP Water and Environmental Analysis Lab.

Payment for all test will be made to Protect Wood County & its Neighbors, we will then make one payment to the UWSP Lab.

Nutrient Management Plans Educational Opportunity

4/10/2015 at 1:48 am

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

The poster below introduces yet another wonderful opportunity offered by Protect Wood County & Its Neighbors group. As we move forward in our opposition to the proposed CAFO, it is essential that we have as many informed and educated supporters in the public community as possible.

Please join us as we host an amazing opportunity to learn about Nutrient Management Plans (NMPs). NMPs are designed, in theory, to protect the citizens and environment from massive amounts of untreated waste which is discarded on the land through various methods of dispersal. Most NMPs are written for large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The Protect Wood County & Its Neighbors group has paired with Midwest Environmental Advocates and other local experts to present this highly educational program.

All residents are welcome and encouraged to attend and participate in this extraordinary opportunity. We ask that you pre-register for the event so appropriate seating and lunch selections can be planned for.

Register Here

Clean Air Clean Water Shirts

3/10/2015 at 10:49 pm

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

In the next couple months we will be facing a pivotal time in our community. The AdHoc committee on manure irrigation is wrapping up their study, the lawsuit initiated by the Wysocki group will again be in front of a judge, and the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is estimated to be released soon igniting a whirl wind of public hearings and input sessions.

Early on in our battle we established a t-shirt fundraising campaign to unite our group and show public support for our cause. Our groups green shirts are recognized far and wide here in Wisconsin. They were bright, loud, and captured the attention so sorely needed at that time.

As we have progressed through this battle our focus centered around preserving the clean air and water of our community and the surrounding area. It is our hope that these new shirts can again be worn by the masses to promote and show support for our cause.

Our next court date against Wysocki is fast approaching, it is our hope to fill the court room with our new shirts and message. You can start placing your orders at any time. In order to receive your t-shirt in time for the up coming court date orders must be placed immediately, even then we can not absolutely guarantee delivery in time.

Displayed below is a picture of the new shirt along with a link to an online order form. Upon completion of the order form you will be sent an invoice via email to submit payment through Paypal. It is not necessary for you to have an individual Paypal account. All orders must be paid in full prior to us placing your order. Please be patient for your payment invoice as I will have to generate these individually, it is not an automated program. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

T-Shirt Order Form

Adult Small - Adult XL - $12.00
Adult 2XL - 5XL - $15.00

Please consider showing your continued support. As always, thank you for all you continue to do.

Farm Bureau Case Challenging EPA’s Right to Share Factory Farm Data Dismissed

2/1/2015 at 3:02 pm

Via Food & Water Watch:
A federal judge dismissed a challenge brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council against the Environmental Protection Agency in Minneapolis late yesterday. The industry groups were seeking to block the federal agency’s ability to release public information regarding highly polluting factory farms to citizens concerned about clean water. Food & Water Watch (FWW), Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) and The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), represented by lawyers at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), had intervened in the case on behalf of citizens who have a right to protect their communities and their environment from polluting factory farms and to safeguard open government.

The Farm Bureau filed their case after EPA released documents relating to the location, size and ownership of thousands of industrial factory farms to environmental advocacy groups pursuant to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act back in 2013. Both EPA and several states have recognized these facilities as significant sources of pollution to many of our streams, rivers and bays across the country, yet they remain largely unregulated and relatively hidden from the members of communities in the vicinity of the operations.

“Many of our public waterways suffer from nutrient impairment and factory farms are some of the biggest nutrient polluters in the country,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Instead of looking for ways to avoid responsibility by filing these kinds of law suits, maybe Farm Bureau and other industry front groups should be looking for ways to clean up these facilities and make the big meat companies control their pollution.”

The court decision underscores the fact that citizens have a right to know where factory farms are located and whether or not those operations are being responsible stewards of the land and waterways. It also demonstrates that the EPA has the obligation to share this data with the public upon request.
Full Article

Bayfield County Residents Protest Against Large Hog Farm Proposal

2/1/2015 at 2:42 pm

Via Fox 21 Online:
Lovers of Lake Superior are banding together and saying ‘no’ to a huge hog farm looking to call northern Wisconsin home.

An Iowa pig farmer has his sights set on a piece of land in Eileen Wis., but locals are worried about the millions of pounds of manure that they say will pollute nearby Lake Superior.

"Fresh clean water is so much more valuable to this planet than cheap bacon," said protester, Mary Dougherty of Bayfield.

Bayfield County officials were welcomed by about 30 protesters Tuesday evening holding signs and chanting, “No crap near Lake Superior” and, “Family farms, not poop factories.”

The board had a few big decisions to make that will have an impact on the incoming hog farm, and protesters were hoping they could make a difference.

"This is not the end it's just the beginning," said Dougherty.

Reicks View Farm is looking to build a hog farrowing farm in Eileen which sits on the fish creek watershed just a few miles from Lake Superior.

The farm would be a place where piglets are born and raised for a few weeks then sent to Iowa.

"I have yet to find a community where 26,000 hogs have moved in and water pollution is not the direct result of the massive amounts of manure that these factory farms produce," said Dougherty, quoting her research.
Full Article

Groups Sue EPA Over Animal Confinement Air Pollution

2/1/2015 at 2:32 pm

Via The Des Moines Register:
Evidence is mounting that large animal-confinement operations are polluting the air and hurting public health, according to two lawsuits filed Wednesday that could have broad ramifications for Iowa, the nation's largest pork producer. 
A coalition of eight groups seeks to force the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air emissions from large pig, cattle, dairy and other livestock facilities. 
The environmental and animal-welfare coalition is asking a federal judge to "compel the Environmental Protection Agency to finally act to address unchecked toxic air pollution from factory farms, a large and growing industry that's almost entirely escaped pollution regulations for decades," said Tarah Heinzen, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, a group leading the legal challenge.
Full Article

Join our fight against Saratoga CAFO: column

1/24/2015 at 9:51 pm

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
You probably haven't heard much lately about the proposed dairy CAFO, or concentrated animal feeding operation or factory farm, in the town of Saratoga. But something significant does happen daily statewide with regard these large farms. Below I've tried to update these developments:

•A hog CAFO is being proposed in the pristine hills ten miles south of Lake Superior. People are fighting back with help from two committees of their county board.

•The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' environmental impact study of the proposed dairy will probably be made public in early summer.

Full Column

Door County Land and Water Dept. Stepping Up Groundwater Protection Efforts

1/24/2015 at 9:17 pm

Via Peninsula Pulse:
As a direct result of the mishandled liquid manure spreading by a subcontractor working for the Haberli Farms last September, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has designated the farm as a medium-sized Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO).

A CAFO, as defined by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is a farm with 1,000 or more animals. However, the DNR has the authority to name a smaller operation a CAFO if the farm contaminates a well.

The DNR classified the Sept. 8-9 spreading of manure down a sinkhole, which led to contamination of neighboring wells, as a category 3 discharge, reported Door County Land and Water Conservation Dept. head Bill Schuster at the Jan. 15 meeting of the county’s Land and Water Committee.

Schuster said the Haberlis will have to operate under NR 243, the DNR’s regulations for CAFOs. One of the rules the Haberlis will have to observe going forward is that they cannot spread liquid manure on fields less than 24 inches to bedrock, which Schuster said is more than 50 percent of the 5,000 acres they farm.

“That’s a pretty big change,” he said. “Going forward, Haberli Farms are going to have to make a lot of modifications.”

He said the farm and the hauler would both be issued with citations for the incident, and that it was the second violation.

“They did something similar the year before,” Schuster said, adding that there is no third citation. The Justice Dept. gets involved for the third violation.
Full Article

Iowa's Largest City Sues Over Farm Fertilizer Runoff In Rivers

1/24/2015 at 9:02 pm

Via NPR:
Des Moines, Iowa, is confronting the farms that surround it over pollution in two rivers that supply the city with drinking water. Des Moines Water Works says it will sue three neighboring counties for high nitrate levels in the Raccoon and Des Moines rivers. It's a novel attempt to control fertilizer runoff from farms, which has been largely unregulated.

Bill Stowe, general manager of the Des Moines Water Works, told Iowa Public Radio in an interview last week that "we are seeing the public water supply directly risked by high nitrate concentrations."

Stowe says the source of these nitrates is pretty clear. Farmers spread nitrogen fertilizer on their corn fields, it turns into nitrate and then it commonly runs into streams through networks of underground tile pipes that drain the soil.

Those drainage systems are managed, in some cases, by county governments, and Des Moines Water Works is now proceeding on the theory that those governments can be held legally responsible for the pollution that their pipes carry.

"When they build these artificial drainage districts that take water, polluted water, quickly into the Raccoon River, they have a responsibility to us and others as downstream users," he told Iowa Public Radio.
Full Article

Spring Branch Creek Monitoring

1/23/2015 at 11:39 pm

Via Tri-Lakes Management:
The Tri-Lakes Management District will begin monitoring Spring Branch Creek in order to establish a baseline for phosphorous and nitrates, and the presence of organisms that indicate the health of the Upper Lake Camelot watershed which is fed by Spring Branch. As conditions allow, flow monitoring will be done as well. 
Spring Branch Creek originates just across Highway 73 near Highway U, in the general area of the proposed Golden Sands dairy CAFO in Saratoga. Though an intermittent source of water flowing into Lake Camelot, it is critical for a couple reasons. 
First, it is one of the two watersheds feeding into Lakes Camelot, Sherwood and Arrowhead, eventually exiting into Lake Petenwell. Lakes Sherwood and Arrowhead were added to Wisconsin's list of impaired waters last year and we want to take steps to protect them. 
Secondly, the Rome Water Utility's primary wells are located in proximity to Upper Lake Camelot. State hydrologists tell us that as our wells operate, 60% of the flow comes from existing groundwater and 40% is lake water drawn in through the cone of influence. 
With reports around the state of drinking water wells made unusable because of high nitrates and residents and visitors sickened by manure related to E coli and other organisms, we need to protect water users by identifying any harmful contaminants introduced into our waterways upstream through Spring Branch Creek.   
Citizens interested in assisting with monitoring should contact Rei-Lakes at 715-325-3250 or email at

Manure Ad Hoc Committee

1/23/2015 at 11:49 pm

First and foremost I would like to send out a heartfelt Thank You to all the supporters who attended Tuesday's Manure Ad Hoc Committee meeting. We had a solid showing of about 50 individuals and were able to finally express our concerns to the board.  It was wonderful to have a professional in the industry validate our information with additional facts and talking points.  Gordon Stevenson (ex DNR run-off specialist) did an outstanding job opening the eyes of our county board members.  One can only hope that they quit dragging their feet and start making some solid decisions.

As always we video taped our presentations.  We chose not to create a highlight clip this time as we feel it is important for all our residents to hear both presentations in their entirety.  Although the 2 presentations are long (about 40 min. each) it gives clear evidence to the harm that could come to our health and environment if we do not continue to fight back at every turn. Both presentations will also arm you with solid researched facts to share in the community when discussing the concerns of the proposed CAFO.

Please feel free to contact members of the Ad Hoc Committee with your concerns and encourage them strongly to enact the Precautionary Principle and protect the residents of Wood County from potential harm from spray irrigation of liquid waste.

Manure Irrigation Ad Hoc Committee members include:
Ed Wagner (Marshfield):
Peter Hendler (Marshfield):
Robert Ashbeck (Milladore):
Hilde Henkel (Rudolph):
Donna Rozar (Marshfield): (underscore after the n)
Bill Leichtnam (Nekoosa):

County Continues Manure Study

1/22/2015 at 10:09 pm

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
For almost five months, a Wood County committee has studied the issue of manure spraying, but a citizen group is concerned committee members don’t understand or aren’t willing to take action.
Tuesday morning, more than 50 members of the group “Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors” showed up for a meeting of the Wood County Ad Hoc Committee on Spray Waste to support Criste Greening, a member of Protect Wood County, as she presented the group’s concerns.
There are 127 homes that will directly adjoin the fields where the proposed dairy would spread its manure, Greening said. Protect Wood County is concerned about the pathogens contained in the manure, drift of the manure from sprayers, air quality and insect infestation, Greening said.
The committee held a series of fact-finding missions, committee Chairman Ed Wagner, Marshfield, said during Tuesday’s meeting. The committee met with people who have knowledge of the issue, he said. “We think we’re getting the best information available,” Wagner said. Once the committee has heard from everyone it thinks has valuable information, it will look at the facts and reach a consensus on its findings. It then will write a report on the findings, including the opinions of any committee members who disagree, to present to the full Wood County Board, Wagner said.
Full Article

The Fight To Save Little Green Lake

12/30/2014 at 7:30 pm

Via Curb:
Many Wisconsin lake communities work hard to keep their lakes healthy, but proximity to agriculture creates a major roadblock.
Lakes throughout Wisconsin located in dense agricultural areas suffer from severe algae blooms in the summer because of high phosphorus levels. A major cause of these high levels is runoff from nearby farms. But the people who care about Little Green aren’t ready to give up even though treatment is expensive and results aren’t guaranteed.
According to Steve Carpenter, director of the Center for Limnology at UW-Madison, these algae blooms are very difficult to handle.
“The chemistry of dealing with [this type of bacteria] is not very well known, and they are extremely stable and very hard to break down,” he says. “So once they get into a water supply you’re really stuck, and there’s not much you can do about it.”
Lake Like A Garden
Little Green Lake is a small lake located about an hour north of Madison near the town of Green Lake. Her name was given to her years before the problem emerged, but now she looks even greener than before. This is due to the overwhelming presence of blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, one of the side-effects of high phosphorus levels.
Blue-green algae is most dangerous if humans, livestock or pets swallow the water it contaminates.
 Full Article

Waunakee Manure Plant Polluting The Air As Well As Water, DNR Alleges

12/3/2014 at 11:49 pm

Via Wisconsin State Journal:
The spill-plagued Clear Horizons manure processing plant near Waunakee is now facing nearly 90 alleged air pollution violations on top of a slate of water pollution problems regulators want a judge to remedy.
The plant’s electrical generators are belching excessive amounts of toxic formaldehyde and acid-rain inducing sulfur dioxide, according to a notice of violations dated Wednesday and released Friday by the state Department of Natural Resources.
Operators also have failed to promptly notify the state about excessive emissions, didn’t sufficiently test generator exhaust, neglected to seek air pollution permits for other machinery and didn’t comply with requirements for annual reports in 2011, 2012 and 2013, the DNR said.
The air pollution problems come on the heels of three spills of more than 400,000 gallons of dairy manure over the past 12 months and findings that the biodigester isn’t removing enough nutrients from manure that is spread on farm fields.
State regulators this month asked the state Department of Justice to take court action against Clear Horizons related to the alleged water pollution violations at the plant, which was built in 2010 for $12 million including tax subsidies. The plant is designed to generate sustainable energy while keeping manure-borne nutrients from fouling the lakes.
Full Article

DNR Backs Off Plan To Relax Pollution Standard For Dairy Farm

12/3/2014 at 11:39 pm

Many of our local residents stood up and made public comments at this hearing. Collectively our voices are making a difference. Keep the faith, we are making progress one victory at a time.

Via Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel:
The state Department of Natural Resources has backed off plans to relax a pollution standard for groundwater for a dairy farm undergoing a major expansion in central Wisconsin after opponents objected to the weaker limit.
The Adams County farm had come under criticism from neighbors and environmentalists who questioned why the DNR would ease pollution limits for a farmer who paid $65,000 in penalties for polluting groundwater in 2013.
On Tuesday, the DNR approved a permit for Burr Oak Heifers of Coloma to house 3,100 heifers. The cattle, in turn, will produce an estimated 3.32 million gallons of liquid manure and 45,900 tons of solid manure annually, according to agency figures.
The decision is the most recent involving a permit review of large-scale dairy farms in Wisconsin. New or expanding farms are inviting criticism from neighbors and environmentalists who raise objections about odors, traffic and potential threats to surface and groundwater.
But large-scale farms are on the rise in Wisconsin as some operators opt to expand to capitalize on efficiencies. Operators say they can manage manure without causing environmental harm.
The DNR said it would not impose a weaker alternative limit for nitrates in groundwater that the agency initially proposed. That limit was nearly three times higher than the state standard for safe drinking water.
Full Article

Kewaunee Mega Dairy Asks DNR Secretary To Overrule Permit Modifications

11/21/2014 at 12:17 am

Kinnard Farms Inc. this week asked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to “correct” a judge’s ruling that required the DNR to modify the dairy farm’s water permit and was intended to strengthen groundwater protections in the polluted area.
Dairy farmers, rural residents and groundwater advocates are among those watching the case for potential statewide impact.
Five of Kinnard’s neighbors last year challenged the farm’s water discharge permit application, which would allow the farm to expand by 55 percent, to about 6,200 cattle. They asked Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt to force the DNR to require groundwater monitoring and cap the number of cattle in the permit.
Boldt did so. In his ruling, Boldt blamed widespread well pollution in the area on what he called a “massive regulatory failure.”
At the time, a lawyer for Kinnard praised the decision, noting that it confirmed the farm could expand.
Full Article 

Election Result

11/21/2014 at 12:08 am

The polls were quite busy throughout our area on Tuesday, November 4, 2014. It was an amazing turnout for a midterm election. With the political campaign season now behind us, it is time once again to focus on what is important in our fight - the preservation of our communities from economic and environmental destruction that a proposed CAFO would have to our area.

Regardless of how you voted, I think we can all agree our water and air quality, water quantity, property values, and health are not partisan issues. These are quality of life issues and every issue is in serious jeopardy should the proposed CAFO ensue. We had two strong candidates who took the time to understand our concerns and both were ready to fight for us on some level or another.

In the end, the people spoke and Scott Krug was announced the winner. Congratulations Representative Krug. We look forward to continuing our important work together on groundwater legislation while expanding into other vital issues surrounding our environment, health, and economy. Thank you for making it clear during the campaign where you stand on our issues and that you agree the siting of a CAFO in Saratoga is not desirable or logical.

To your challenger, Dana Duncan, we appreciated having a strong opponent on the ballot. We hope this will not be the end of our relationship with you, but only the beginning.

Let it be known our work has not ended. Back to the battlefields we go. Rep. Krug is going to need a lot of citizen support in order to accomplish his tasks this term. In general, it’s been the current Republican Party that has tried to write legislation this past year allowing unlimited amounts of water to be drawn from the aquifer. In order for Rep. Krug to be effective, he will need citizen activism behind him. Please get involved and help make a difference. By helping Rep. Krug and being active in this fight through Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors, you will only be helping yourself and, of course, your neighbor.

Thank you to everyone for your hard work and dedication over the past 2½ years. No one wins a battle by themselves. They say it takes a village and we have several towns and countless others supporting us. May we stay strong and resolved until the end!

May God’s protection and richest blessings be upon our communities.

Gail Kretschmer
On behalf of Core Leadership Team

This Is What Life With Kewaunee County Water Is Like

11/8/2014 at 9:27 pm

The following is a great article on daily life in Kewaunee County, where many residents can't drink water from their own wells due to groundwater pollution. People should not have to worry about if their water will make them sick.

Full Article

Victory for Kewaunee County Citizens

11/1/2014 at 1:12 am

Dear friends and neighbors,

Tears of joy here tonight as I read about the victory for the good guys over in Kewaunee County. So many of the folks in that area have become personal friends over the past 2 years. I am so happy for their victory. Unfortunately it should not have to take a court decision to ensure clean drinkable water for a township. The systematic dismantling of our DNR has got to stop.

PLEASE VOTE! Together we have the power to change directions in this state and make protecting our environment a priority once again.

Via Midwest Environmental Advocates:
Yesterday, the Wisconsin State Division of Hearings and Appeals issued a decision in the water pollution permit challenge by residents of Kewaunee County against the state Department of Natural Resources. The court decision spotlights the widespread groundwater pollution problems in an area of Wisconsin with the highest concentration of industrial livestock facilities.
“In rural Kewaunee County, industrial livestock facilities produce more manure waste than can safely be spread on area fields for disposal,” said Sarah Williams, a Midwest Environmental Advocates staff attorney who worked with citizens in the permit challenge. “Nitrates and bacteria from untreated animal waste are polluting local drinking water wells. During the permit challenge proceedings, the overwhelming and moving testimony from Petitioners and local residents about their concerns for their health and their water was reflected in Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt’s decision.”
In his decision, he notes that “many members of the public were deeply upset about what could only be described as a crisis with respect to groundwater quality in the area.” He continues,
The proliferation of contaminated wells represents a massive failure to protect groundwater in the Town of Lincoln. The Department [of Natural Resources] needs to utilize its clear regulatory authority to require groundwater monitoring to enhance its ability to prevent further groundwater contamination. Many public witnesses testified, under oath, credibly and forcefully about the hardship and financial ruin that this local groundwater contamination crisis has had on their businesses, homes and daily life.
One of the Petitioners, Lynda Cochart, said about the decision “I’m pleased with the additional protections that Judge Boldt put in place. He obviously listened to our testimony and is concerned about our health and welfare. It is unfortunate that we had to go through so much to get this result. I would’ve liked attention given to our surface water as well as my well water, which I cannot use because it is polluted. No one can live with water like that.”
Full Article

(CAFO) Krug / Duncan Announcement

11/1/2014 at 12:48 am

Dear friends and concerned citizens,

Election day on Tuesday, November 4th, is fast approaching. The Assembly race for District 72 and the Governor’s race are of utmost importance as the "Winners" will have a direct impact on the future of Wisconsin’s natural resources and environmental protection. The purpose of this email is not to direct you how to vote, but to briefly present some of the key environmental issues and candidate positions.

There are many among us who have misgivings about continuing to work with our current representatives. The question has been posed, "Is it better to have a mediocre representative from the party in power or a strong representative from the opposing camp?" Ultimately, that decision is going to be left to the voters.

How you choose to vote is your choice. What is ultimately important is that you vote.

As with the Gubernatorial email, comments provided below are from local residents who have been actively involved in our battle from the beginning and frequently communicate with our representatives. Comments have been edited to reflect environmental topics only and not those on education or the economy.

Representative Krug - Rep. Krug has been our elected official throughout the duration of our battle against the Wysocki group and their proposal to site a dairy CAFO in our backyards. Rep. Krug initially was determined that a “Win / Win” situation could be reached between the dueling parties, ignoring the outcry from his citizenry. Although continuing to sit solidly on the fence regarding the proposed CAFO, Rep. Krug created a Groundwater Advisory Committee in August 2013 in response to community outrage over Motion 375 sneaking into the budget bill. The citizen committee never addressed Motion 375 because Senate Bill 302 was introduced and dominated the discussion by Krug’s lead. Krug attempted to bring interested parties to the table to reach an acceptable compromise regarding water usage in the Central Sands. The Groundwater Advisory group did not address the CAFO concerns.

The following is an overview of citizen input regarding representation of our concerns over the past 2 years:
  • Proposed CAFO announced in June 2012 - community research completed and given to Rep. Krug in September 2012. Rep Krug did not stand with his constituents publicly until Aug. 21st of 2014 - two full years after the initial announcement.
  • Rep. Krug takes sole credit for the defeat of Senate Bill 302 and indeed he played a part in the victory. However, in actuality SB 302 was so bad it was defeated by a tremendous amount of statewide citizen opposition and activism preventing it from ever reaching the Senate or Assembly floor.
  • League of Conservation Voters Award - Voting for conservation bills 57% of the time and with a lifetime record of 38%, Krug ranked highest among Assembly Republicans. DEMs like Katrina Shankland were typically at 100%.
  • Rep. Krug formed the Groundwater Advisory Committee after significant pressure from environmental groups and touts the success of the group's accomplishments. However, numerous participants feel very differently regarding the accomplishments noting:
    • meetings were casual/informal and lacked focus - Follow-through from the previous meeting decisions hardly happened
    • group had questionable objectives
    • creation of draft legislation was completed by Rep. Krug without the group’s input or knowledge - group actively spoke with Rep. Krug to NOT introduce this legislation due to its unacceptable content.
    • Rep. Krug had an ineffective communication style and often cancelled/rescheduled meetings. The last meeting was held on May 23, 2014. However, Rep. Krug did try to get the group to meet in June and August - no one was available.
  • Rep. Krug attended CAFO update meetings hosted by citizen groups but has also backed out of pre-scheduled appearances on multiple occasions. Most recently, the following venues:
    • August Groundwater Summit (Almond)
    • Living Better/Longer Health Forum on Oct. 2 (Wisc. Rapids)
    • Ho Chunk candidate forum on Oct. 9 (Black River Falls)
    • League of Women Voters Forum on Oct. 20 (Wisc. Rapids)
    • Waushara County Debate on Oct. 22 (Wautoma)
  • When asked on Wisconsin Public Radio about the vicious attack mailer being delivered to constituents, Rep. Krug admitted he was aware of the flyers and supported their distribution.
  • Additionally, Rep. Krug takes credit for bringing tourism to Rome. In actuality, both the State Trap Shooters and new Sand Valley Golf Course sought out the Rome location independent of any local representation.
  • Rep. Krug voted for the 2013 AB 1/ SB 1 Gogebic Taconite Bill that removed many environmental safeguards from mining regulations.

Dana Duncan - Candidate Duncan is an attorney and local resident in the Central Wisconsin area. Mr. Duncan officially announced his candidacy in January of 2014 to challenge Rep. Krug for the 72nd Assembly District seat. Mr. Duncan has been an outspoken candidate on environmental issues. Provided below are comments and testimonials supplied by local residents who have communicated with candidate Duncan and asked difficult questions pertaining to our concerns.
  • Citizens met with Candidate Duncan to share concerns on the proposed CAFO and water issues associated with the facility in late 2013. Citizen research was shared at that time. Mr. Duncan studied the information and completed his own investigation leading to his announcement against the proposed Golden Sands Dairy proposed for Saratoga on June 12th, 2014. Candidate Duncan continues to utilize citizen groups for insight and information regarding the proposed CAFO.
  • Candidate Duncan believes the Department of Natural Resources should be an elected position not appointed by the Governor and will work to initiate this change to eliminate party politics from the DNR.
  • Candidate Duncan has publicly called for a moratorium on high capacity well expansion until a further evaluation is done by the DNR assessing cumulative impact.
  • There are concerns that Candidate Duncan will have little clout with veteran lawmakers due to being a freshman in the Assembly. When hearing this concern, Mr. Duncan outlined how he plans to form a freshman caucus so the new hires to the Assembly have more clout working together than standing alone independently. This idea was stated publicly at a meeting with members of the Protect Wood County group on July 21, 2014.
  • An Attorney background provides knowledge of law and organizational ability not available to our current incumbent.
  • Candidate Duncan ran his campaign with little monetary assistance from his political party. After being the target of numerous mud-slinging ads from his opponent, Mr. Duncan’s campaign team continued to take the high road, including rejection of a mailer designed to strike back at his opponent even though he was encouraged to circulate it.
  • Early on, Candidate Duncan chose two members of the Protect Wood County group, Bill Leichtnam and Bruce Dimick, to be on his Advisory Committee. This has given our group unique access to the Candidate.
As with all political campaign seasons, deciphering fact from party propaganda is at times very difficult. Do not believe every radio commercial you hear or every slam ad that hits your mailbox. Comments provided here are from individuals who have been front and center in the fight to protect and preserve our townships and who are deeply concerned with current trends in our state government. Unfortunately, our environmental battle has become very political.

Please honor their hard work by voting on November 4th.

Protect Wood County
Core Leader Group

(CAFO) Walker/Burke Announcement

10/29/2014 at 8:56 pm

Dear friends and concerned citizens,

As we all face election day next Tuesday, November 4th, we encourage everyone reading this to exercise their right to vote.  Our communities here in the Central Sands will be greatly impacted by many of the races at the state level, particularly the Assembly race for District 72 and the Governor’s race.  The purpose of this email is not to tell the reader how to vote, but to briefly present some of the key environmental issues and candidate positions as we understand them.

How you choose to vote is your choice.  What is ultimately important is that you vote.

Below you will find a selection of thoughts and comments supplied by local residents regarding candidates for Governor.  These comments from residents are important as they relate to the future of our environment here in Saratoga and Rome.  Many contributors have been front and center in our fight to preserve our residential and recreational area and are gravely concerned with the potential outcome of upcoming elections.  Comments provided have been limited to environmental topics and do not include other areas such as education, healthcare, etc.
Governor Walker - Regardless of where one stands in their support of our state Governor, we cannot quietly ignore the evidence that indicates he does not actively protect the environment of Wisconsin.  In fact, many will say he is doing just the opposite.  From the appointment of Cathy Stepp, who has limited experience as Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, to the appointment of Matt Maloney as Deputy Secretary who openly stated, “The DNR is no longer a strong advocate one way or another on environmental issues,” the facts speak for themselves where Governor Walker’s priorities are in regard to protecting our environment.
Candidate Burke - Mary Burke is the candidate running against Governor Walker.  New to the election campaign, Ms. Burke has indicated her concern regarding environmental topics.  The following is a compilation of issues presented to Ms Burke and her response on the campaign trail.
  • March of 2014 launched the Rural Leaders Initiative to her campaign to gain insight into issues that are affecting WI rural citizens by identifying community leaders and important issues.  She then created a plan to invest in rural communities.
  • Ms. Burke believes there needs to be a change to the current system of appointing the Department of Natural Resources department heads.
  • Environmental issues are of great concern for Mary Burke.  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 10, 2014, is quoted as stating, ”If implemented, her (Burke's) approach would help guarantee clean air, water, access to the natural environment.”  Additionally, although in a discussion regarding frac sand issues, Ms. Burke shares her concerns on balancing environmental issues with business opportunities. (37 Min. mark in debate video).
  • When concerns were shared and individuals invited to tour our area, Senator John Lehman (Mary Burke’s Lt. Gov. candidate) visited Rome & Saratoga to see and hear our unique situation first hand.
  • Mary Burke states she will work with anyone to get the job done. Lake Delton - Mary Burke.  "I'll put an end to the politics-first approach of the last three years," she said. "I'll sit down and work with anyone — Democrat, Republican or Independent. It wasn't so long ago that that was the Wisconsin way. Finding common ground, negotiating in good faith, and putting the people of this state first.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 6, 2014.
To hear all the topics and candidate viewpoints, feel free to watch the debates in their entirety at the links provided.  

Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4th and encourage others to do the same!
Protect Wood County
Core Leader Group

Groups Ask EPA to Investigate Pollution Causes by Cattle Farms

10/27/2014 at 11:56 pm

Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Six environmental groups on Wednesday asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exercise emergency powers under the Safe Drinking Water Act to investigate groundwater contamination in cattle-intensive Kewaunee County in northeastern Wisconsin.
In a petition to the federal agency, the groups say the state Department of Natural Resources has failed to protect drinking water for county residents on two fronts: through its powers to regulate groundwater; and the agency's oversight of large-scale cattle operations.
The environmental groups estimate that the tens of thousands of cattle in the county produce the manure equivalent of more than 900,000 humans — or more than the city of Milwaukee.
Last year, 149 wells, or nearly 31% of the 483 wells tested in the county, contained bacteria or nitrates — or both — that exceeded state and federal public health standards. In the Town of Lincoln, half the wells that were tested exceeded the standard, according to the petition.
The well testing was conducted by the county conservation department and was analyzed by the Center for Watershed Science and Education at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
"Everyone deserves safe, clean and reliable drinking water, but Kewaunee County residents gamble with their health simply by turning on the faucets in their homes," Elizabeth Wheeler, staff attorney with Clean Wisconsin, said in a statement. "We're seeking federal action to help create a long-term solution to what's unfortunately been a long-term problem for thousands of people in the area."
The petition has political overtones because it comes less than two weeks before the Nov. 4 election between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Democrat Mary Burke, and environmental groups have complained about lax regulation under Walker.
Environmental groups argue that their petition is not without precedent. In 2013, farmers in Washington state, southeast of Seattle, agreed to reduce nitrate levels after the EPA used drinking water regulations to intervene.
Full Article

The Trouble With Antibiotics

10/27/2014 at 1:35 am

It is estimated that 70% of antibiotic use takes place on farms. As farms have become more industrialized, antibiotics are used as a precautionary measure, rather than treating animals that are already sick.

This has the unintended affect of creating antibiotic resistant bacteria. Much like how over use of antibiotics in humans breeds resistant bacteria, precautionary use of antibiotics in industrial farms also breeds resistant bacteria in animals. Industrial farm use is a possible pathway to transmit antibiotic resistant bacteria from animals to humans.

See the full video for more information.

CAFOs, High-Capacity Wells Loom Large In Central Wisconsin Assembly Race

10/27/2014 at 12:00 am

Via Wisconsin Public Radio:
A debate over regulating high-capacity wells in Wisconsin's Central Sands area is shaping up as the key issue in this year’s race for the 72nd Assembly District.
Democrats there are hoping to win back the seat that was a stronghold of theirs for 40 years. Republican incumbent Scott Krug defeated the veteran legislator Marlin Schneider in a three-way race in 2010, and then won a tight re-election race in 2012 by just 109 votes.
This year his Democratic challenger, Port Edwards attorney Dana Duncan, thinks he’s got a good chance to win. Duncan made his case against Krug in a debate this week sponsored by environmental groups who favor tighter regulations for high-capacity wells used by large dairy farms known as Combined Animal Feeding Operations.
“I don't want CAFOs in Wisconsin period,” said Duncan. “They are the equivalent to agriculture what child labor and sweat shops were to manufacturing 100 years ago. And they will go away eventually if we stand firm.”
Duncan said Krug hasn’t tried hard enough to block a proposal of 5,000-cow dairy farm in the district. Krug, however, said compromise is necessary to balance the needs of farmers with protecting clean water. He said he’s crafting a site-specific permitting process that will allow big farms only where they won’t threaten clean water resources.
“I've fought hard as hell against my own party to make sure that the one-size permitting does not continue in the state of Wisconsin. We need to find ways that we can continue to grow agriculture, that we can continue to promote tourism, but we have to make sure that we're permitting differently,” said Krug.

Town Passes Door County's First Manure Spray Restrictions

10/26/2014 at 11:48 pm

Via Green Bay Press Gazette:
The Sturgeon Bay Town Board gave the green light Monday to writing an ordinance that will ban the aerial spraying of manure on farm fields, making the community the first in Door County to act on the issue.
The Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin has been pushing for regulating the spraying. The group urged the Town Board to act as part of an effort that has several other towns on the peninsula — including Gardner, Nasewaupee and Sevastopol — considering restrictions.
The advocacy group claims the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has issued permits in Kewaunee County that allow several concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to add more than 30,000 animal units to their herds.
The Kewaunee County Board last month adopted a regulation banning the spread of manure during winter months on fields where there is less than 20 feet of soil above bedrock.
The ordinance was enacted in response to reports 30 to 40 percent of Kewaunee County wells are contaminated.
Full Article

Bill Berry Opinion of Scott Walker's Environment Record

10/26/2014 at 11:42 pm

Via Capitol Times:
Following my four decades of covering the environment, here is an honest observation: Scott Walker has by far the worst environmental record of all Wisconsin governors in that time.
Some have been disappointing. Jim Doyle, for instance, promised not once, but twice, to make the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources appointed by the department's board to insulate the agency from politics. He failed to deliver.
Tommy Thompson huffed and puffed about environmentalists but preserved the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund and used it to permanently protect important natural resources.
Others have come and gone with some pluses and minuses, but none has undertaken the kind of attacks on natural resources as the current governor. At a recent packed meeting here on the proposed Gogebic strip mine, one observer described Walker as an “environmental moron.” My preference is to call him and his cronies “radical extractivists,” people who plunder the environment for financial gain.
He has attended fundraisers hosted by wealthy potato and vegetable growers who want water-baron status to plunk high-capacity wells anywhere they’d like, regardless of their impacts on other citizens. Should he be re-elected, guess where he’ll line up when the Legislature attempts to usurp efforts to consider impacts of high-capacity wells on other wells. That, despite a recent ruling by an administrative law judge that said considering cumulative impacts is just common sense.
Make no mistake about it: The Walker administration has turned over the control of our natural resources to those who see them only as booty. Until he took office, Wisconsin had a proud and mostly bipartisan environmental tradition. Now, we are a state run by radical extractivists. If Walker is re-elected, it will get much worse.
Full Opinion

Lt. Governor Candidate Tours to Learn of CAFO Concerns

10/26/2014 at 11:43 pm

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
Residents from both Rome and Saratoga met with Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Sen. John Lehman, Racine, to discuss concerns about a proposed large-scale dairy and its potential impact on the area.
Rome residents Don Ystad and Bob Benkowski took Lehman on a tour of the tri-lakes area where a proposed concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, is causing concerns.
“A lot of residents here and in the (town) of Saratoga are very concerned about what it’s going to do to area water,” Ystad said.
The Wysocki Family of Cos.’s initial dairy proposal includes 4,000 milking and dry cows, 300 heifers and 1,000 calves, for a total of 5,300 animals. Plans also call for about 6,400 acres of crops. The initial plan called for 49 high-capacity wells, although the number has been cut back to 39 wells.
The group toured the area where work on a links-style golf course is underway and several spots that offered views of Arrowhead, Camelot and Petenwell lakes. During a stop at The Lure, they discussed the situation.
If Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and Lehman are elected, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will look very different, Lehman said. The Democrats have a history of environmental protection, he said.
The Legislature plans to take up the issue of siting CAFOs during its next session, Lehman said. There needs to be more control over where large-scale dairies are located, he said.
Full Article

Manure Spill Cleanup Continues

10/26/2014 at 11:43 pm

Via Peninsula Pulse:
John Bobbe is not happy with the response to the Sept. 16 manure spill at his neighbor's farm on County D in Brussels.
Early that morning, 640,000 gallons of liquid manure escaped from the two million gallon holding tank owned by farmer Kurt DeGrave.
Bobbe and his wife live a quarter-mile to the west of the farm and they have known the DeGrave family for 36 years.
"We had manure water on all four sides of us," Bobbe said. "It would be easy at first glance to place all the blame on the farmer. A simple check valve in the manure system that would have prevented the whole mess was reportedly not installed. Reports are the county Soil and Water Department said it wasn't needed."
 Full Article

Countdown to 72nd Assembly District Debate

10/3/2014 at 1:39 am

Let the countdown begin!

Planning is complete and debate questions are finalized.

Watching this event come to life week by week has been an incredible experience.  The amount of hours put in by our debate committee has been incredible.  I can not say enough about the individuals who have sacrificed their personal time with family to assist with the planning and promoting of this event.  Thank you to all our committee members who have worked so hard these past weeks.

Mark your calendars and plan to attend as this is gearing up to be a Must See event.  We have an excellent collection of questions from a large variety of areas.  Please forward far and wide and promote attendance.

Doors will open at 5:30 pm, with the debate starting at 6:30 sharp.


Saratoga Monitoring Wells

9/23/2014 at 12:45 am

At a well-attended Saratoga Town Board Meeting, the Town Board unanimously voted to contract for the placement of 10 groundwater monitoring wells that will encircle the proposed Wysocki CAFO in the Town of Saratoga. All the citizens that spoke, spoke in favor of the proposal with great passion. No citizen or elected official opposed. The citizens emphasized the need to get the well network in this fall so that baseline data can be gathered prior to any activity by the Wysocki organization. This will provide the town and its citizens with solid data for further legal action in the event that the Wysocki organization moves ahead with its plans and the aquifer that all the citizens of Saratoga depend upon is degraded.

This proposal will be put out to bid, but it is expected to cost something in the neighborhood of $60,000 the first year, and considerably less in subsequent years. The key parameters that will be monitored will include:

  • Determine the soil type and any impervious layers that may or may not exist in the borehole. This is key data for any mathematical models used to simulate the effect of the CAFO on our aquifer.
  • The shallow wells will vary from 20 to 50 feet depending on location and there will be two deeper wells at 50 - 70 feet.
  • All water samples will be tested for pesticides, herbicides, coliform bacteria, total dissolved solids, total organic nitrogen and ammonia.
  • In addition all samples will be tested for oxygen demand, nitrate nitrogen, chloride and phosphorus.
  • Water depth will be measured every 4 hours automatically.
  • Other tests may be added after an examination of the initial proposal by a committee of knowledgeably citizens and professionals.

It cannot be overly emphasized how significant this action by our town board is. They are definitely looking out for their residents.

Wood County Board Opening

9/23/2014 at 12:50 am

Many of you are aware that Wood County Board member Gary Allworden has resigned as the Wood County 17th District Representative. The 17th District represents sections of Saratoga, Grand Rapids, and Port Edwards. This past November our own Bruce Dimick lost his bid for Allworden’s seat by only 19 votes.

It is our understanding that the process for filling the vacant seat is for interested parties to apply, undergo an interview with the County Board President Lance Pliml (16th district) and Trent Miner (8th district) who in turn recommend to the board who they feel should fill the vacancy. Our own Bruce Dimick has once again thrown hat into the ring.

One would think that Bruce Dimick would be the citizens choice and the clear candidate as the previous election for the seat resulted in such a close race. Mr. Dimick and representative Allworden shared similar views and would have voted in a very similar manner on a variety of issues. Both of these men represent the views and concerns of the 17th district. As a matter of fact, Mr. Allworden’s vote was often the deciding factor between resolutions working in our favor versus working against us. We are extremely thankful for his service.

It is of utmost importance that the voices of the 17th district come through loud, clear and publicly to Lance Plimil, Trent Miner, and all the Wood County Board members preparing to vote on a new representative. Please take the time to to call, email, and write letters in support of Bruce Dimick. We have made too much progress with the Wood County Board to purposefully have a representative put in place that is not a supporter of our fight against the proposed CAFO or a true representative of their constituents.

Attached below is a list of our county board members and their contact information. Please take the time to connect with these individuals and allow your voices to be heard. Letters to the Editor would be appreciated as well as attendance at the County Board meeting where voting will take place, this date has yet to be announced.

Gerald Nelson District 1 715-387-0194
Donna Rozar District 2 715-387-8121
Michael J. Feirer District 3 715-384-4581
Ed Wagner District 4 715-387-1857
Peter O. Hendler District 5 715-384-7671
Allen W. Breu District 6 715-387-4222
Robert Ashbeck District 7 715-457-6764
Trent Miner District 8 715-884-2337
William Winch District 9 715-569-4789
Hilde Henkel District 10 715-435-3547
Kenneth A. Curry District 11 715-459-3392
Douglas Machon District 12 715-423-0399
Marion Hokamp District 13 715-423-8233
Dennis Polach District 14 715-424-1749
Bill Clendenning District 15 715-423-2469
Lance A. Pliml District 16 715-421-4001
Vacant District 17
Brad R. Hamilton District 18 715-886-2984
Bill L. Leichtnam District 19 715-886-5107

Judge Rules DNR Must Consider Cumulative Impacts in Issuing High-Capacity Well Permits

10/27/2014 at 12:01 am

Via Friends of Central Sands:
Coloma – An administrative law judge issued a decision this week finding that the DNR must consider the cumulative impacts of groundwater pumping when considering new high-capacity well permits. 
The ruling came in a case brought by Friends of the Central Sands (FOCS) and others challenging a well permit for the proposed Richfield Dairy concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in Adams County.  The DNR had said it lacked authority to take the impacts of existing and future wells into account when issuing new high-capacity well permits.
The judge found that the DNR “took an unreasonably limited view of its authority,” and that the public trust doctrine, statutes, and decades of court precedent required DNR to consider cumulative impacts.  The decision continued, “It is scientifically unsupported, and impossible as a practical matter, to manage water resources if cumulative impacts are not considered.”
“It is common sense that the DNR must consider cumulative impacts of groundwater pumping before allowing another well,” said Bob Clarke, Founder of FOCS.  “This decision recognizes that science and the law compel consideration of cumulative impacts, too.”
The decision comes at a critical time, as studies have shown surface water levels are dropping in the Central Sands area due to high-capacity well pumping, primarily for irrigation.  Evidence presented at a hearing showed water resources near the proposed CAFO were already pumping-impacted, including Pleasant Lake, wetlands, and numerous Class 1 and 2 rated trout streams.
Yet the DNR has seen record numbers of well permit applications in recent years.
“For years, we have failed to consider the consequences to our water resources when allowing new high-capacity wells,” said Bill Vance, a home owner on Pleasant Lake.  “This decision recognizes that the DNR must do the math and consider how much is too much.”
This week’s decision caps a process that began in 2011, when Richfield Dairy first applied for a high-capacity well permit.  Court decisions in 2012 and 2013 had determined the DNR’s analysis of the well application was flawed.  This week’s decision comes after three weeks of hearing, where experts testified on the existing and projected impacts to water resources. 
The judge’s decision reduced the allowable amount of water the dairy may pump in one year.  In a companion case, the administrative law judge determined the DNR should have established a cap on the number of animals that may be confined at the CAFO.
Full Article 

Kewaunee's Message to Wood County

8/31/2014 at 1:56 am

Eric Peterson and Wood County Board member Bill Liechtnam recently visited Kewaunee County with video camera in hand. It is one thing to hear about the area and another to actually see the area.

Kewaunee County has a large concentration of CAFOs, and 30% of all wells in the county have chloroform bacteria and/or nitrates above the human health standard. We do not want to see what is happening in Kewaunee county begin to happen in Wood county.

Please take the time to watch and listen to the citizen's messages. These folks have repeatedly offered us assistance and paved the way for our group. I do not know where we would be without their steadfast support and advice. Please watch and then please share.

Nepco, White Sands, Red Sands Beach Unsafe Levels Of E Coli

8/19/2014 at 12:27 am

The Wood County Health Department has closed Nepco, White Sands, and Red Sands beaches due to high counts of E. Coli bacteria exceeding safe limits.

The maximum safe level of E. coli is 235 colonies per 100ml of water, and water tests from the affected beaches measured between 6400 to 6500 colonies per 100ml, drastically above the established safe levels.

See the Wisconsin Rapids Tribune for further information.

Wood County: To Spray or Not to Spray

7/31/2014 at 10:10 pm

On Wednesday July 16th a large group of Saratoga and Rome residents showed their support to our group by attending the Wood County Judicial and Legislative Committee meeting. A resolution was presented to ban manure spray irrigation for Wood County. Although we received opposition from the states Dairy Business Association and heard concerns from a local farmer, in the end we were successful in getting the resolution passed with a vote of 3:2. The video below contains highlights from the presentation that took place.

Bill Berry: High-capacity wells spark rising concern

7/31/2014 at 9:54 pm

Via Capital Times:
STEVENS POINT — The battle lines over central Wisconsin’s groundwater resource couldn’t be clearer based on recent events here.

At virtually the same time wealthy potato growers hosted a fundraiser for Gov. Scott Walker, Portage County Executive Patty Drier was calling for better stewardship of groundwater. In her state of the county address, Drier noted the impact of both municipal and agricultural high-capacity wells on water supplies. It was a remarkable speech, one of the first in which an elected public official has staked out a clear position on this issue.

Drier noted that more groundwater is pumped in Portage County than in any other county in the state — 35 billion gallons in 2012 and 27 billion last year. And several other counties in the so-called Golden Sands region are pumping heavily, too. Applications for new high-capacity wells have skyrocketed, perhaps in response to drought and high prices for corn.

But lake dwellers, rural residents and small farmers in the area are worried about the impact of pumping on lakes, streams and other wells. Some tell horror stories about watching lakes shrink and wells go dry.

That prompted Drier to say, “It is time to lift our heads out of the sand and take some thoughtful actions that steward our groundwater resources instead of pitting water users against each other.”


It all boils down to this: Will Wisconsin find a way to tie high-capacity wells to rules that take into account the impact of those wells on other water users, or will it give special water baron status to a select few?
Full Article

Socioeconomic Impact Statements

7/20/2014 at 10:57 pm

A couple weeks back per Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) request, we reached out to our residence to supply WDNR representatives and officials in the Governors office information regarding socioeconomic impacts the proposed dairy would cause to our town and the surrounding townships in the area. For those of you who may have missed that email or need a refresher as to what exactly was being asked, I have linked it HERE for your convenience.

If you have yet to submit your statement it is not to late. Please take the time to review the above linked email and share your concerns with the identified individuals regarding your socioeconomic impacts. For those of you who have already sent your statement Thank You.

We ask all who have already, or who are planning, to submit a letter to also Cc a member of our group into your statement. We are attempting to create a clearinghouse of concerns that have been shared with the local WDNR and want to verify all concerns are being addressed. We can only do this if you are willing to share your letters with me. I respect your privacy and understand if you are unwilling to share your statements. To all who have already responded to this call to action we appreciate your efforts.

Wood County Committee Endorses Manure Spraying Ban

7/17/2014 at 11:06 pm

A huge thank you to all our Saratoga and Rome Friendly supporters for packing the auditorium yesterday afternoon in show of support. It is gatherings like the one yesterday that clearly show our elected officials that we are an informed and educated group concerned with our communities well being. Again, THANK YOU!

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
About 100 people filled the Wood County Courthouse auditorium Wednesday afternoon to take part in a discussion of aerial manure spreading during the Judicial and Legislative Committee meeting.

By a vote of 3-2, the committee approved sending a resolution to the Wood County Board at its August meeting.

The committee approved sending a resolution banning aerial spraying to the full County Board, with members Gerald Nelson and Ed Wagner, both of Marshfield, voting against it. Nelson and Wagner didn't oppose the resolution but thought it should be considered by the Wood County Conservation, Education and Economic Development Committee, which is scheduled to look at the issue at its Aug. 6 meeting.
Full Article

Retired Wisconsin Resident's Letter To CAFO Farm Owner

7/10/2014 at 10:55 pm

Via MAL Contends:
By Patt Pisellini, resident, Town of Rome, Wisconsin
Thank you Jim Wysocki, for giving my retirement a purpose.  
Thank you for relieving me of the monotony of relaxing on the beach and enjoying the ambience of the pristine waters of Lake Sherwood (Rome, Wisconsin).  
Thank you for eliminating the chore of taking our pontoon out for an afternoon of fishing ad quiet conversation.  
Thank you for taking me away from the mindless evenings spent watching television, and replacing them with hours spent at my computer doing research, days spent sitting through legislative meetings, and endless hours listening to testimony stemming from lawsuits attempting to prevent CAFO projects like yours from destroying our groundwater. 
Thank you for replacing the boredom of just sitting in my porch swing and doing nothing, with tension filled days, and sleepless nights filled with worry of what could happen if your CAFO project is allowed to continue. 
Thanks to your thoughtlessness, I don’t have to spend my days puttering in my garden, playing with my grandchildren, or sitting on my patio chatting with neighbors.   
Thanks to your lawsuits (Wysocki sues local governments and elected officials who try to stop his CAFOs), and legislative lobbying, I have been able to utilize a costly education in public policy analysis that I probably never would have had the chance to use.  
Thanks to your callous disregard for the environment, I will no longer need to appreciate the beauty of a simple walk in the woods; discover the intricate markings on a butterfly’s wing; or listen to lilting sound of songbirds in the trees.
I won’t have to work so hard to save endangered species living on the 8,000 acres of forest you plan to destroy - they’ll be gone forever - replaced with endless miles of manure-covered crops. 
Thanks to your dishonest half-truths, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about the horrors of CAFOs, and the damage they do to the environment.  Without your potentially poisoning proposed project, I might have languished in the thought that my home was safe, my health was secure, and my grandchildren were protected.  Thanks to your mean-spirited attempts to demean me and my friends as “environmental activists”, I have developed a new pride in the work we are doing to educate the public on the importance of preserving and protecting nature. 
This has been quite an adventure.   
In all my 70 years of life, I have never seen such selfish, self-serving attempts to surreptitiously rewrite laws designed to protect our God given right to water.   
Because of your complete disregard for people, I have discovered the power of love can bind a community together.  Without the fear and intimidation,  I never would have made so many good friends in neighboring towns, and met so many wonderful environmentalists willing to work long hours to prevent the damage your dairy may do. 
Thank you for all you’ve done, and I sincerely hope and pray you are compensated in kind, in your retirement. 
 Full Article

Armenia Manure Irrigation

7/5/2014 at 1:47 pm

If you are not familiar with manure irrigation, this is a sight to see. These activities pollute the air and water. We do not want this to happen to Saratoga.

Cranberry Blossom Parade Photos

7/2/2014 at 11:43 pm

Little belated but heart felt thank you to all who help organize and participated in the Cranberry Blossom Parade representing Rome and Saratoga concerned citizens. We had a great reaction to our float and passed out 1000 pieces of literature.

New Law Limits Ability To Challenge High Capacity Well Permits

7/2/2014 at 10:20 pm

Via Wisconsin Public Radio:
Starting on Monday, Wisconsin residents can no longer challenge state Department of Natural Resources permits for a high-capacity well if state officials failed to look at what the well might do to overall groundwater in the area.

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker got rid of the cumulative impacts challenge when they passed the state budget a year ago. The new language covering the hi-cap wells -- often used by water-intensive industries -- takes effect on Tuesday.

This change comes much to the dismay of Amber Meyer Smith of the group Clean Wisconsin.

"Really, property owners are losing their ability to protect their property," Smith said. "More and more people, especially in the central area of the state that are facing huge problems from over-pumping of groundwater due to neighboring industry and other high-capacity wells.They're just going to lose one more tool in their toolbox to protect their own access to water, for their wells, for drinking water, for access to their favorite lakes and rivers and streams."

DNR officials can still look at the cumulative impact on all the wells in an area, but if the agency doesn't do so, challenges to the permit are now limited.
Full Article

Central Wisconsin Residents Stand Up for Communites Against Factory Farms

6/22/2014 at 1:17 am

Via Mal Contends Blog 
"[Saratoga, Wisconsin] Town Board members and residents are taking steps to ensure the future of water in the community.
Brian Hamm and Rob Borski have been monitoring the water in the 10 Mile and Seven Mile creeks since the two men attended a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources citizen-based stream monitoring seminar in Wisconsin Rapids during spring 2013. The men have monitored 10 different sites on the two creeks for the past nine months, Hamm said," reports Karen Madden in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune (Gannett Co).
Residents from Saratoga, Nekoosa and Wisconsin Rapids (Wood County), Rome (Adams County)—Lake Arrowhead, Lake Camelot and Lake Sherwood (Adams County)—and the surrounding counties of Juneau and Portage have one mission: Protect the water from the predictable toxic effects from the proposed massive Wysocki Golden Sands concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) and its proposed 49 high-capacity water wells that would poison and drain area waterways and groundwater.
The Wysocki Family of Cos. announced the company had completed its environmental impact report of its proposed CAFO, but residents of Saratoga are going to do their own study, hiring a hydrologist to determine what is happening now, and what would be the effects of the Wysocki Golden Sands Dairy CAFO.
Reports the Tribune's Madden:
"'We’re going to get a study done on what takes place with all this water,' said Terry Rickaby, Saratoga (Town) chairman. 
"The Town Board approved spending $6,274 on the study. The hydrologist the town hired will work with Protect Wood County and its Neighbors to do the study." 
Full Article

Central Wisconsin Communities Say: No Huge Factory Farms, No More Deep Water Wells

6/22/2014 at 1:17 am

Via Mal Contends Blog 
A trip through the area reveals growing sentiment against a rapacious, toxic presence in these small communities and neighboring counties. Folks in Wood County, [and in Juneau, Portage and Adams counties] see a proposed huge factory farm as a threat to their way of life, and the life blood and health of their children.

Golden Sands Dairy has an application for 49 high-capacity wells in Saratoga that if approved would not only suck up the groundwater aquifer that people here use for their everyday lives, but the toxic threat to the water supply and air has people genuinely frightened.
The geology of the central sands of Wisconsin makes this among the worse places for Wysocki's plans.

Notes the citizens website, Protect Wood County, citing a report on the Wisconsin Soil Survey by the U.S. Dept of Agricultural-Natural Resources Conservation Service: "Saratoga's sandy soil is not very suitable for the proposed land use. The report shows that Saratoga's soil is susceptible to blowing hazards, high seepage of sewage lagoons, and high susceptibility to concrete corrosion, among other concerns."

People are organized, but petitioning the DNR and the governor's office has up to this point not yielded results.
Full Article

Central Sands Dairy Pictures

6/15/2014 at 12:48 pm

The pictures below were taken at nearby Central Sands Dairy on May 2, 2014. We do not want this to happen to Saratoga.

Manure Spraying Under Scrutiny

5/4/2014 at 2:31 pm

Scott Murray did not want to leave the home in rural Juneau County where he and his family had lived for more than 20 years. But with the house surrounded on three sides by manure irrigation systems, life had become a nightmare.

“It even got into the walls of our home,” Murray said of the liquid manure spray that drifted onto his property from the Central Sands Dairy across the road. “It was an ammonia smell. It hurt so bad even to breathe.”

In 2011, the Murrays sold their house and moved.

The buyer?

Central Sands Dairy.

“And it’s a good thing,” Murray said, “because my property wasn’t worth a nickel.”

Some research suggests that the plethora of chemicals and pathogens found in liquid manure can have serious health impacts, ranging from respiratory disease to potentially lethal antibiotic resistant infections. Opponents fear wider use of manure irrigation will increase the risk of human illness and drinking water contamination.

Critics also question the ability of the DNR, relying mostly on citizen complaints and self-reporting by the huge dairies, to adequately regulate a practice that has already been shown to pollute waters and drive people from their homes.
Full Article

Beach Closures In Madison And Across The State Due To High Algae And Bacteria Levels

4/23/2014 at 10:49 pm

Beaches are the public face of the lakes; they are where residents meet water quality up close. And two decades of data on beach closures — a useful if imperfect metric of water quality — also show no apparent improvements or other overall trends.

Algae and bacteria, both caused by pollution, continue to be the prime causes for dozens of beach closures each year. People are responsible for the pollutants, but how much gets in and how much trouble they cause are “largely driven by weather,” said Trina McMahon, a UW-Madison civil engineering professor who studies the lakes. Invertebrate populations also play a major role.
Since 1996, the agency has closed the 16 beaches it manages more than 1,300 days (one day’s closure at one beach), averaging about 75 closure days each summer, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. The shutdowns ranged from 26 total days in 1999 to 193 days in 2009. The monitored beach season lasts about 100 days.
Harmful algal blooms and bacteria cause state and local governments to caution beach users or close the beaches along the Great Lakes and at inland lakes across Wisconsin.

Algae can cause a slew of problems, including asthma-like symptoms; at worst, it can be fatal to people or pets.

Some bacteria cause gastrointestinal illness, but the strains of E. coli used in most beach tests are generally harmless and used as an indicator for other pathogens — bad bacteria, viruses, parasites or diarrhea-causing protozoa — that are harder to test for.
Thousands of pounds of phosphorus flow into the lakes each year. About 80 percent of it arrives via manure or nutrient-rich soil from farms, and the rest from urban sources like dead leaves and construction erosion, according to Carpenter. It is what allows the blue-green algae to flourish. Cleaning up the phosphorus would go a long way toward helping the beaches.
Doing so would take aggressive management of runoff, said Carpenter, who believes it would be possible to cut the phosphorus running into the lakes to 10 percent of what it is now. The current, ambitious goal is to halve the pollution.

In the 1830s, the lakes were so clear that boaters could see all the way to the bottom of Lake Mendota in July, instead of the three to nine feet that is normal today. The phosphorus pollution then was probably one-tenth of what it is today. “We probably can’t go back to that unless we revegetate the watershed with the original savannah vegetation, which is not going to happen. But we could do a lot better than we’re doing now,” Carpenter said.
Full Article 

Letter: Many are banning CAFO practices

4/23/2014 at 10:29 pm

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune
EDITOR: A recent NASA-funded study found the health costs associated with ammonia emissions from agriculture exports to be $36 billion a year — equal to about half of the revenue generated by those same exports. These same exporters of milk and meat to China and other countries are subsidized by our state and federal tax dollars while they are also responsible for increasing our health risks.

It used to be that we polluted in other, lesser countries and shipped finished products here. Now in the interest of business at any cost, we do it to ourselves.

Factory farm issues are occurring all over the country. California and other states have recently banned concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, practices. On a recent trip through New Mexico I read of issues there as well. A key differentiator is that the dairy CAFOs I saw were out in the middle of nowhere, where very few people lived. While polluted groundwater can travel for many miles before it’s an issue in rural New Mexico, a CAFO in the middle of a residential/recreational area like Saratoga and Rome could affect the wells of thousands of residents and destroy the trout streams in Saratoga and the lakes in Rome surrounded by 5,400 properties.

Is anyone else concerned that the current relaxed environmental laws may be destroying our lives and sacrificing our children’s legacy? My farming family would never have sacrificed our health and future viability just to make a buck. But they weren’t CAFO operators.

Don Ystad,

Full Letter

Rome and Saratoga Friendly

3/31/2014 at 9:18 pm

A directory of local businesses that have joined the Rome and Saratoga friendly effort can be located by clicking the R&S Friendly link at the top of this page.

The business owners on this list appreciate the business from the people of Rome and Saratoga and support us in our efforts to preserve our recreational community and prevent the potential damage to our lakes, wells and streams from the proposed factory farm in the Saratoga/Rome area.

Please patronize these businesses that have come out in support of their Rome and Saratoga area customers and oppose the Golden Sands CAFO proposed for Saratoga. E-mail if the business you normally frequent is not listed here.

Bruce Dimick Meeting Notes

3/25/2014 at 9:51 pm

In case you were unable to attend, below is a link to Bruce Dimick's speech during the town hall update on March 22nd.

Bruce is running for Wood County Board Supervisor, District 17, in the upcoming election on April 1st. Bruce joined Protect Wood County early on, and has been dedicated to our group's mission to protect the environment of our township and our neighbors.

Bruce Dimick Introduction

Now Accepting PayPal Donations

3/25/2014 at 9:29 pm

We have introduced an easy way to make donations to help our cause.

Donations can now be made online through PayPal. PayPal is used by millions of people, and is a safe easy way to send money over the internet.

Donations to Protect Wood County and its Neighbors help pay for the following:

  • Mailings
  • Signs
  • Advertisements
  • Rallies
  • Media Events
  • Possible Additional Legal Council

Every donation helps us in the fight to protect Wood County against the proposed Golden Sands Dairy Project.

If you are interested in making a donation, click the donate button below, or visit the donation page for more information.

Soil Susceptibility and Sustainability in the Plainfield Sands Summary

3/25/2014 at 1:26 am

A new summary of the soil susceptibility and sustainability concerns for the proposed Golden Sands Dairy is now available on our website.

The soils of Saratoga are identified as Plainfield Sand, 0-2 slope. The soil has low water capacity with rapid permeability. These soils are suited to certain species of pine trees or pasture, but are ill suited for cultivated crops due to low water capacity. Crop growth is seriously restricted by a lack of moisture, and soil blowing is severe if the sandy soil is cultivated.

Another major concern is the ability to build manure lagoons in sandy soil. Considering the corrosive nature of cement in Plainfield sand, the likelihood of cracking with seepage is high.  According to the USDA, our soils would not support a compacted clay liner underneath the manure lagoon either - as the soils properties are just too poor.

Briefly stated, Saratoga's soil is a very poor fit for the proposed CAFO operation.

CAFO Update And Water Drive At Saratoga Town Hall

3/14/2014 at 10:46 pm

An update meeting will be taking place at the Saratoga Town Hall on Saturday March 11 at 1:00pm.

Below is a link to a flyer containing further details on how you can help the cause and for further information. Please pass the flyer along to anybody who may be interested.
Agenda items for the meeting include the following:
- Central Sands Dairy (Armenia) DNR Contamination Investigation
- CAFO Catastrophe Speech
- Introduction of our Wood County Board Candidates
- Rome and Saratoga Friendly initiative
- Legislative update
- Proposed Golden Sands Dairy (Saratoga) Update

Water Drive
In conjunction with our town meeting our community group will be hosting a Water Drive for our friends in the Kewaunee County town of Lincoln. The township of Lincoln has been affected in years past with water contamination problems due to the proximity of Dairy CAFOs. Some homeowners have tap water that comes out of their faucets brown due to the over spreading of manure on local fields.  

Due to the heavy snowfall and extended winter season the township of Lincoln is expecting a higher than usual water contamination rate and manure run-off problem with the impending spring thaw. This is a wonderful opportunity to help a fellow community and a clear wake up call to all of us as to what could occur here if we choose to quit fighting. 

We must remain diligent in our efforts and in this case by assisting where we can to help those already effected by CAFOs.  Please give generously if you can. An enclosed trailer will be set up in the town hall parking lot and individuals will be ready to unload any water donations you can supply. Simply drive your vehicle over and we will do the rest.  Please spread the word. Alternate arrangements for water donations can be made for individuals who are unable to attend the meeting but are willing to donate, please be in touch. Only sealed containers such as bottled water purchased from a store will be able to be accepted.

If you are willing to volunteer your time at the collection trailer on Saturday the 22nd please contact  us. All volunteers are appreciated.

Below is a Fox 11 News cast regarding the water issue in the town of Lincoln.

Water Contamination Problems In Town Of Lincoln

3/25/2014 at 9:29 pm

Via Fox 11 News:
As the weather warms up, residents in the town of Lincoln are reporting more issues with polluted water.

The thin soil and fractured bedrock make the area more susceptible to runoff problems.


Bad water is nothing new in Lincoln. Numbers show out of 75 wells tested last summer, just over half (50.7%) were contaminated.

The Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department is conducting a new yearlong well testing study looking at the problem

“This is just kind of a targeted, more specific, ramped up program that we’re doing here,” said Andy Wallander, Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department.

Wallander says the reasons for bad water are twofold.

“Agriculture is probably the major reason why we have bad water in those areas. Certainly there are septic systems up there as well they do play their part,” said Wallander.
Full Article

Alternate Nitrate Standard Proposed For Previously Fined CAFO

2/22/2014 at 11:01 pm

Burr Oak Heifers, previously known as Opitz dairy, has a proposed Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit out for public comments that are due no later than March 4th.

As part of the proposed permit, Burr Oak Heifers would be granted an exemption, allowing alternative concentration limit for Nitrates of 28 mg/l. The normal enforced standard for Nitrate pollution is 10 mg/l.

In 2013, Burr Oak Heifers, then known as Opitz Custom Heiffers, was fined $65,000 and ordered to pay for the replacement of a polluted private well. Now, Burr Oak Heifers is looking to build new barn facilities, with the previously mentioned exemption allowing for a higher Nitrate pollution limit.

Draft permit:
Fact sheet:

The DNR must hold a public hearing if at least five people request one. If you are interested in a public hearing on the matter, contact Terence Kafka of the DNR by March 4.

Terence Kafka
Department of Natural Resources
5301 Rib Mountain Drive, Wausau, WI 54401,
(715) 355-1363

Saratoga Resident Testifies In Front Of The Assembly Environment And Forestry Committee

2/1/2014 at 1:40 pm

Saratoga resident Gail Kretschmer traveled to Madison to testify in front of the Assembly Environment and Forestry Committee regarding the newly proposed Assembly Bill 679.

This bill essentially is a re-write of Senate Bill 302 that did not make it through committee earlier this year due to public concerns. Assembly Bill 679 would override the Supreme Court decision in the Lake Beulah case that stated the DNR does have to consider all waters of the state when permitting a high capacity well, meaning that the DNR must consider cumulative effects of all water usage.

DNR Survey Regarding Groundwater Issues In The Central Sands

1/26/2014 at 8:53 pm

The DNR is launching a strategic analysis to examine ways to sustainably manage groundwater and surface waters in Wisconsin's central sands region. The area includes more than 800 miles of trout streams and 300 lakes. Because the area's sandy soils drain quickly, stream flows and lake water levels are highly influenced by groundwater levels and use. There are concerns over declining water levels and increasing groundwater withdrawals.

We have observed the little Plover River go dry, Lake Huron become a wetland, while Long lake and Plainfield lake have been drastically degraded.

Please take the time to follow the attached link and complete the DNR Survey regarding your concerns with groundwater usage. Just as a warning, it is a timed survey and appears to end prematurely if left unattended. With that said, please attend to the survey at a time when you know you will be able to complete it in its entirety.

DNR Survey

DNR To Launch Study Of Central Sands Groundwater Use

1/26/2014 at 8:38 pm

Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:
The state Department of Natural Resources on Wednesday announced plans for a major study on groundwater in central Wisconsin, where critics say growing demand from agriculture and other sources has harmed some streams and lakes.

The project is expected to take more than a year and could prompt changes in the way groundwater and streams and lakes are managed in the 1.75-million acre Central Sands region.

Water issues have loomed over the region for years, but concerns heightened in 2012 when drought conditions spurred massive increases in groundwater pumping.

Agriculture surpassed municipalities as the biggest user of groundwater sources in the state that year, according to a report by the DNR in October.

The region represents half of all irrigation wells in Wisconsin.

Portage County, the largest groundwater user in the state, saw a 65% increase in water use in 2012, according to the DNR.

Second-ranked Adams County experienced a 79% increase, and third-ranked Waushara County had a 68% increase.

There are more than 3,000 high-capacity wells in the region. In 2012, those wells pumped more than 98 billion gallons, the DNR said.
Full Article

DNR Enforcement Actions Lag

1/26/2014 at 8:29 pm

Via Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:
Environmental enforcement at the Department of Natural Resources under Gov. Scott Walker lags behind past administrations of both parties dating back to 2000, state records show.

A former DNR secretary called the drop "troubling." George Meyer said that with three years under the helm of Walker, he believes the DNR should be making more progress after an exodus of staff reduced enforcement activity. Meyers' view: The agency seems to be putting less emphasis on enforcement cases.

Steve Sisbach of the DNR disagreed with that assessment, noting that in the past two years, enforcement is on the upswing and that the agency has been busy hiring workers.

By several measures, the DNR has had a more aggressive posture on environmental cases in 2012 and 2013, compared to 2011. That year, the agency suffered from a surge in retirements after Walked and the GOP-controlled Legislature enacted Act 10, and enforcement dropped to the lowest point since at least 2000, DNR records show.

One key measure is the number of cases referred to the Department of Justice. That has increased from 24 in 2011 to 34 in 2012, but leveled off to 35 last year, according to DNR records. Referrals rose 46% from 2011 to 2013.

By comparison, in 2000, when GOP Gov. Tommy G. Thompson was governor, there were 61 cases that were sent to the attorney general.


Since Walker took office, the DNR has:

■Issued an average of 257 notices of violations a year. In the past four years of the administration of Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, the average was 488. That's a drop of 47%.

■Held an average of 221 enforcement conferences annually, where agency personnel meet to review environmental violations with parties. The average under Doyle in his second term was 286 — a drop of 23%.

■Referred an average of 31 cases each year to the Justice Department for prosecution. Under Doyle, the average was more than twice as high — 68.
Full Article

Report Calls For CAFO Moratorium

1/19/2014 at 11:23 pm

Via The Country Today:
A report recently released by the Wisconsin Environment Research and Policy Center, a statewide, citizen-based environmental advocacy group, links more large dairy operations in Wisconsin and the weakening of the state’s clean water standards with big-money agribusiness interests.

Katie Siegner, Wisconsin Environment clean water associate, said the report, “The Power to Pollute,” aims to unearth agribusiness’ political influence in Madison and the impact it has on Wisconsin waterways.

“People don’t realize how much money — millions and millions of dollars — these big agribusiness groups like the Dairy Business Association and the Farm Bureau are spending to lobby the state government in Wisconsin and to make sure the state Legislature and state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection are passing policies that are friendly to big agribusiness and these factory farms,” Siegner said.

According to the report, agribusinesses and related organizations spent more than $4.4 million lobbying the Wisconsin government in the past five years. Lobbying expenditures included almost $200,000 spent by Kraft Foods, more than $800,000 by the Dairy Business Association and more than $1 million by Koch Companies Public Sector (a subsidiary of Koch Industries, a multibillion dollar corporation that sells products and services to large agricultural operations through its other subsidiaries).

The report also notes that since the DNR took charge of overseeing new and expanding dairy farms, the agency has never turned down a permit request nor revoked a permit following pollution standards violations. The DNR issued three violation notices for concentrated animal feeding operations’ animal waste in 2012 — down from 13 in 2011 and 15 in 2010.

Meanwhile, the number of permitted CAFOs has grown from just one in Wisconsin in 1992 to 92 in 2002 and 237 in 2012.
Full Article 

Court Rules DNR Must Consider Cumulative Effects Of High Capacity Wells

12/23/2013 at 2:57 am

Via Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune:
MADISON — A state appeals court Thursday ruled that the Department of Natural Resources’ study of the Richfield Dairy’s two proposed wells failed to consider the impact on other high-capacity pumping in the Central Sands area.

The District IV Court of Appeals opinion reverses a Dane County judge who determined that an environmental impact statement was not needed to assess the “cumulative effects” on the area of the dairy’s amended request to annually pump 52.5 million gallons of water.

The DNR conducted a less extensive environmental assessment after Richfield proposed a 4,300-cow-and-250-steer dairy in the Adams County town of Richfield and issued permits for the high-capacity wells and wastewater discharge.

Appeals Judge Paul Higginbotham faulted the DNR’s environmental assessment as “inadequate.”

“We conclude that the EA prepared by the DNR was inadequate because there is no indication that the DNR considered the cumulative effects of the two high-capacity wells on the environment,” Higginbotham wrote in the 23-page opinion.
Full Article

Hormonal Wells Found In Wisconsin's Karst Region

12/23/2013 at 2:50 am

TOWN OF LINCOLN, Kewaunee County — In one of the most intensively farmed parts of America’s Dairyland, where 29 percent of the county’s private wells test unsafe due to bacteria or nitrates, residents have a new concern: estrogenic well water. 
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay researchers cited manure as a possible source — though not the only one — for the endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in half of 40 wells in northeastern Wisconsin, chosen for testing because of their susceptibility to contamination. 
“We don’t know what the human health risks are,” said Angela Bauer, lead author. “But what we do know is that long-term exposure to estrogen in general can increase your risk to certain types of diseases, including hormone-sensitive cancers. So I think it’s absolutely something that requires further attention.”
Full Article 

DiGiorno Drops Wisconsin CAFO

12/11/2013 at 11:09 pm

The nation’s largest frozen pizza company says it will no longer accept milk from a Wisconsin dairy farm after NBC News showed the company undercover video shot by an animal rights group of workers on the farm kicking, beating and stabbing cows and dragging the animals with ropes.

“Nestlé is outraged and deeply saddened by the mistreatment of animals shown in this video,” said Deborah Cross, a spokesperson for Nestlé’s pizza division, which manufactures DiGiorno pizza. Cross confirmed that Nestle gets cheese from an Appleton, Wisc. supplier that uses milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm in nearby Greenleaf, and said that Nestlé had advised the cheese supplier that “we will not accept any cheese made with milk from the Wiese Brothers Farm."


The video shows workers hoisting the animals into the air by their hindquarters with a cow lift, and many images of cows who are bleeding or appear to have infected wounds. Cows that are sick and injured are dragged by their necks or legs with ropes attached to tractors.

One worker is shown poking cows with a stick and jabbing a sharp instrument into the back of a cow until blood flows. Other workers can be seen kicking cows or beating them with sticks and heavy ropes.
Full Article 

Mile Long Manure Spill Near Waunakee

12/4/2013 at 12:07 am

A 300,000-gallon trail of manure that at one point stretched for at least a mile from a ruptured pipe at a Dane County biodigester may be cleaned up soon, said a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

The animal waste spread west from the PPC Partners energy-producing facility, then poured into a ditch system and flowed southeast into Six Mile Creek in Waunakee, said Mark Cain, a DNR wastewater engineer who has been monitoring the cleanup for more than a week. It’s not clear how much sewage reached the creek, which empties into Lake Mendota, but no fish kills have been reported, Cain said.

The company has cooperated fully on the cleanup, but if it is found to have violated its wastewater permit, it could be fined a maximum of $10,000 per day, and other penalties could be assessed under the state spill law, Cain said.
Full Article

Hull Residents Suffer Water Shortage

11/7/2013 at 9:03 pm

Dozens of central Wisconsin residents have been struggling with a water shortage so severe they sometimes can't shower, do laundry or wash dishes.

Leaders in the town of Hull told Stevens Point Journal Media the water shortage developed in early October, and some suspect the problem is tied to a new well installed last year in neighboring Stevens Point.

Hull Chairman John Holdrige sent a letter to Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson asking for an investigation into the relationship between the city's new well and private wells in the area drying up.

"I think there's an obligation there by the city," Holdrige said. "There's about one-third of the households in Portage County that have a private water supply. That really is a huge issue."

Stevens Point Public Utilities and Transportation Director Joel Lemke said monitoring showed water levels stayed within a few feet of previous levels after the well began operating last summer. He said more information is needed about what is going on.

Thirty-three Hull residents have replaced private wells, and as of Thursday, another 34 residents were still reporting water problems, town officials said.

Robin Lipski spent about $7,000 to replace his well after his water flow began stopping while he was showering or doing laundry.

"The city has used the word coincidence," he said, adding, "Two (failed private wells) is a coincidence. Five is a trend. Thirty-three, not so much."

Full Article

Webinar - Pork, Poultry and Penicillin: Health Impacts of Industrial Food Animal Production

10/23/2013 at 7:41 pm

The U.S. is one of the world's largest producers of animals for food, with more than 9 billion chickens and turkeys, hogs and beef cattle annually. Intensive, industrial-scale production has evolved in the U.S. on largely economic grounds, with little attention paid to the broader environmental health impacts. Recently, there has been more scrutiny on the latter. In its September 2013 report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control identified livestock production as a critical ingredient to the nation's epidemic of superbugs. Dr. Wallinga will talk about the science, and how to think and talk about it, especially to health professionals in the community.

Thursday, November 14, 2013
7:00-8:00 pm

Sponsored by:
Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network
Healthy Food Action

Cost: FREE!

Follow this link to register:

**This can serve as a stand alone training or as a wonderful preconference opportunity for those of you attending the Rural Health Dilemma forum on November 16th in Sturgeon Bay, WI sponsored by Kewaunee Cares and the Clean Water Action Council (see attached flyer for more information).**

If you have any questions send an email to

PPP_November14- hfa website

Research Into Water Quantity Shows How High Capacity Wells Will Affect Area Creeks And Water Table

10/1/2013 at 11:26 pm

A report on the quantity of water consumed by the proposed Golden Sands Dairy shows the negative impact the use of high capacity wells will have on area creeks and groundwater resources. Natural recharging of the Central Sands Aquifer under the farm only covers approximately 35% of the water usage of the farm. This shortfall means the groundwater level will become deeper in the areas surrounding the farm, potentially drying up shallow private wells and creeks.

Full Report

Study Shows Higher Odds Of Antibiotic Resistant Infections Near High Density Livestock Operations

9/29/2013 at 12:48 am

Via Jama Internal Medicine:
Most of the antibiotics used in animal feed to promote livestock growth in high-production livestock facilities are not absorbed by the animals and end up in manure. In addition to the antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and resistance genes have been found in manure, so applying manure in crop fields close to residential homes could increase the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections, the authors write in the study background.

Joan A. Casey, M.A., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, and colleagues examined the association between Pennsylvania residents’ residential proximity to high-density swine and dairy/veal operations and to manure applied to crop fields, and their risk for community-associated MRSA (CA-MRSA), health care-associated MRSA (HA-MRSA) and skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTI).

The study focused on 1,539 patients with CA-MRSA, 1,335 with HA-MRSA and 2,895 with SSTI, along with 2,914 control patients without MRSA infection cared for through a single health care system in Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2010.

Researchers found higher odds of CA-MRSA, HA-MRSA and SSTI with higher swine manure exposure in crop fields. High exposure to high-density swine livestock operations also was associated with increased odds of CA-MRSA and SSTI, the results indicate.

“Proximity to swine manure application to crop fields and livestock operations each was associated with MRSA and skin and soft-tissue infection. These findings contribute to the growing concern about the potential public health impacts of high-density livestock production,” the study concludes.
Full Article
Full Report

Wisconsin CAFO To Pay $100,000 Settlement

9/24/2013 at 11:37 pm

A stipulation entered in Kewaunee County Circuit Court on September 12, 2013 resulted in $100,000 in fines levied against Keith Duescher, owner of the former “Legendairy Farms” CAFO. After nearly ten years of violations which subjected neighbors, wetlands, and Lake Michigan to manure runoff contamination and toxic emissions, the defendant (Duescher) has stipulated to the facts in evidence and the fine levied by the State of Wisconsin.

"This case is a stark illustration of how factory farms in Wisconsin are a threat to people who simply wish to live free to breathe clean air and have clean water to drink. Factory Farm oversight and accountability to the people of Wisconsin is absolutely necessary to ensure quality of life and quality of our local farms.”

The State case outlined violations committed by Duescher and Legendairy Farms resulting in significant impact to the community and the environment beginning in 2004:
  1. Manure runoff discharged into navigable waters that feed into Lake Michigan, resulting in a significant threat to water quality in the Great Lake and local tributaries.
  2. The failure of Duescher to comply with permit and monitoring requirements posed a significant threat to public and environmental health.
  3. Duescher compromised, damaged, or destroyed numerous wetland habitats, even after multiple contacts with DNR specialists instructing him to remove material discharged into those wetlands.
  4. The open burning of a demolished barn and plastic containers resulted in airborne emission of dioxin and asbestos, two highly toxic and hazardous chemicals.
  5. A second open burning incident occurred 8 months after Duescher had been warned by DNR against open pit burning.

Full Article

Legislator Contact Information Added

9/24/2013 at 10:07 pm

Information about how to contact your Wisconsin legislators has been added to the links page. Contacting your legislators is a great way to make our voices heard.

 Click here for detailed contact information.

Call To Action: Make Sure Our Voices Are Heard

9/22/2013 at 9:38 pm

Right now our state is at a crucial point. Citizens and lawmakers are waking up to the severity of the potential hazards of spray manure and we need to make sure our voices are being heard.

Even with all the information researched and provided we still have not gotten the DNR to see the light. Meetings are being held across the state regarding this issue and it is time for our voices to be heard in Madison.

Please see the attached letter from a Kewaunee resident who faces 16 CAFOs in their county and the proposed expansion of many. At the bottom of her letter you will find 2 addresses where you can address your letters of concern. We need to make sure these individuals hear loud and clear our opposition to the spraying of manure. Do not let our community be the next contaminated community.

Please send letters as soon as possible, hearings are taking place this week.

Sept. 20, 2013

Dear Door and Kewaunee County residents and visitors,

Door and Kewaunee Counties are a beautiful area of the state, which generate countless visitors from around the nation and afar. Many of us have chosen to live in this Northeast region of Wisconsin because of the natural beauties this location offers, including beautiful Lake Michigan.

It is important for both residents and visitors to realize that we are facing a looming crisis and threat, as the practice of spray irrigation of manure is in the process of being permitted and implemented here in Kewaunee County, and throughout the state.

Kewaunee County has 16 large industrial dairy operations. Many of them are expanding, or planning on expansion, due to the push for the milk and cheese products this state produces. Many of these farms have 6-10,000 animals. An average cow produces as much waste as 23 humans in one day.

While proud of our Agricultural Heritage in the Dairy State, this agricultural practice of spray irrigation of manure will not only threaten our air quality, but will pose true risks to human health. Manure contains over 150 different pathogens, viruses, and bacteria. Add the plethora of other compounds currently found in lagoons that include barn cleaners and their chemical make-up, antiibiotics, hormones and possibly municipal and industrial wastes… and you have a toxic soup.
The aerosolized form of these wastes, sprayed in manure irrigation, breaks down this toxicity into particulate form, which is easily inhaled or ingested. Children are at tremendous risk, as they have rapid respirations, and tend to mouth breathe. Exposure is greater for children due to their size and inability to detox as readily as an adult. Lung damage in children is irreversible.

The elderly, COPD patients, children, those suffering from asthma and heart issues are especially vulnerable.

It is hard to believe that we would be unwillingly subjected to being part of this states experiment on the safety of this practice. At a September 5 hearing for a farm expansion in Kewaunee County, Andrew Craig, DNR Nutrient Management Planning, stated that the farm looking to spray irrigate would be part of an experiment and research to “determine risk assessment” of this dangerous practice here in our community .

Door and Kewaunee County must be protected from the threats of this practice, which not only are a threat to human health and air quality, but to tourism, home values and our quality of life.

Please take the time to write to DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp and DNR Chairman Preston Cole this issue. The time is critical and this must be done immediately.

Thank you,

Nancy Utesch, Kewaunee County

DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp
101 S. Webster
PO Box 7921
Madison, WI  53707-7921

Preston Cole, DNR Chair
Dept. of Public Works
Commissioners Office
841 N. Broadway  Room 501
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Soil Report Shows Saratoga's Soil Far From Ideal For CAFO

9/20/2013 at 8:25 am

A report submitted to the DNR discusses Saratoga's soil and its suitability for CAFO operations. In particular, research shows that Saratoga's soil is very susceptible to wind hazards, sewage lagoon seepage, and concrete corrosion, among other concerns. Further details are available in the full report, or visit the research page for more information.

ABC News Covers Lake Petenwell Algae Bloom

9/19/2013 at 10:48 pm

ABC News covers toxic blue green algae and features Lake Petenwell in this video.

Blue green algae blooms are exacerbated by excess nutrients contained in runoff from agricultural activities, and adding such a large scale farming operation nearby can only intensify the issue in Lake Petenwell and other nearby lakes.

Report Discusses Dairy CAFO Air Quality Concerns

9/16/2013 at 10:04 pm

A report on air quality submitted to the DNR discusses the air quality hazards associated with dairy CAFOs along with affects on the local population. Visit the research page or view the full report for more information.

Map Shows Enormity Of Proposed Golden Sands Dairy CAFO

9/15/2013 at 4:05 pm

The following map shows the huge scale of the proposed Golden Sands Dairy site.

As you can see, the proposed site is enormous at approximately 12 square miles, and will have an impact on the environment of the surrounding area.

Report Shows Troubling Water Quality Concerns In Nearby Town Of Armenia

9/14/2013 at 10:14 pm

According to a water quality study by an independent researcher, the neighbors of the proposed Golden Sands Dairy have a lot to worry about when it comes to the quality of their drinking water.

A detailed summary along with the full report are available on the newly added research page.

Video Discusses The Degradation Of Water In The Central Sands Region Of Wisconsin

9/9/2013 at 3:18 pm

The Friends of the Central Sands (FOCS) have produced a short video discussing water loss and degradation in Wisconsin's Central Sands Region. It does a good job of illustrating the danger to our water resources.

UW-Stevens Point Water Resources Professor Discuses Central Wisconsin Groundwater Shortage

9/8/2013 at 5:15 pm

UW-Stevens Point water resources professor George Kraft discusses a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s report on groundwater shortage in central Wisconsin.

In summary, his studies have shown that the current amount of groundwater pumping is not sustainable in central Wisconsin. High capacity wells are huge risk to our groundwater resource. Watch the video below for more information.

Amazing Well Map Illustrates Danger To Groundwater

9/11/2013 at 9:19 pm

This is an amazing map.

Every yellow dot is an existing private well, and each white dot is one of the 47 proposed Golden Sands Dairy wells.

As you read the map, notice the many thousands of private wells in Saratoga and Rome, then look to the left, across the Petenwell to the Town of Armenia, where Wysocki's other CAFO resides. There are perhaps two dozen private wells in Armenia. Realizing the cone of depression from a high cap well can extend 3 miles, I estimate conservatively there are nearly 4,000 private wells at risk from the CAFO in our area.


Wood County Offers Drinking Water Program For Saratoga Homeowners

9/8/2013 at 5:29 pm

The Wood County UW-Extension and health departments have teamed up with the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point to offer Saratoga drinking water testing to Saratoga residents. Residents can choose between three different water testing packages.

The Homeowners Package ($49) tests bacteria, nitrate, chloride, hardness, alkalinity, pH, and corrosivity. This is a basic package that all homeowners should consider. Bacteria and nitrate are the two most important tests to perform regularly on your well. This package gives a good indication of overall water quality and sometimes indicates other potential water quality concerns.

The DACT Screen Package ($27) tests for components of atrazine type pesticides. Homeowners should consider this package if they are near agricultural fields where corn has been grown or if previous tests indicate high nitrate levels.

The Metals Package ($42) tests for arsenic, lead, copper, iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, potassium and sulfate. Homeowners should consider this package if they have never tested for arsenic or have plumbing with copper and/or lead pipes.

Homeowners can purchase all three packages for $110, a discount of $8.

For more information on testing your water through this educational program please contact Peter Manley, Wood County Extension Resource Agent at (715) 421-8440.

Updated Protect Wood County Site In Progress

9/8/2013 at 5:16 pm

I am currently working on redesigning our site, so you may see some features that are not working or contain filler content.