"Lee Luft, a member of the Kewaunee County Board and chairman of a county task force on groundwater, said the results will be construed as deflecting some of the criticism away from agriculture. He said, however, the study points to the region’s problems. “What we have on our hands here is a combination of problems: The ineffectiveness of some septic systems, but when there is significant groundwater recharge, what we see is a problem from bovine sources,” he said.
“The Wisconsin DNR has a responsibility to accurately inform the public about the challenges presented by climate change,” the scientists said. “Ignoring facts and this responsibility hobbles the state agency entrusted to manage natural resources and protect the public. It also portrays the Wisconsin state government as anti-science.”
The department is proposing revisions primarily to incorporate changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 590 Nutrient Management Standard. Those changes, in turn, incorporated changes to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources farm runoff standards. Together, the three sets of regulations establish a framework for the state's "nonpoint source" pollution control program. The program works with counties to install and share costs of farmland conservation practices, plan for soil and water conservation and farmland preservation, oversee manure storage and local livestock operations, and train conservation professionals. The proposed changes include new restrictions aimed at keeping manure and other nutrients away from direct conduits to groundwater, while allowing farmers to choose conservation practices that are appropriate for their operations and still protect resources.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources leaders are seeking new ways to ensure that they retain crucial institutional knowledge as they unveil a reorganization to wary employees amid a wave of retirements that now includes high-profile managers. DNR shortcomings in hiring and training new workers came to light in June when a state audit linked them to flaws in DNR enforcement of laws aimed at preventing pollution of lakes, streams and drinking water.