County Posting Job for New Conservationist

At its first monthly meeting since the July retirement of County Conservationist Bill Schuster, the Land Conservation Committee announced at the Aug. 18 meeting that Schuster’s position will be posted for three weeks, and in the interim the department will continue to be co-managed by Greg Coulthurst and Dale Konkol. It was also announced that an entry-level conservationist position will be put on hold until the new county conservationist is hired.

In other matters:

  • Sunrise Dunes Estates resident Jan Garber told the committee of the flooding problems at the estate since the fall of 2014. Garber said flooding at points lasted for five months in the subdivision, covered 165 feet of road, limited access to lots, and caused sump pumps to run non-stop. He said one home started sinking into the soil so that beams running down to bedrock had to be installed to stabilize the home at a cost of $40,000. Garber explained that part of the planned residential development included a drainage plan that had to be submitted to the county for approval, with the provision that permits would not be issued without a county inspection and approval. Garber said there is no record of that inspection and approval, yet permits were issued. Garber said an engineering study needs to be completed to deal with the drainage issue, and he and other members of the homeowners’ association would like to see the county assume some responsibility in correcting the situation. “The association doesn’t feel it should be on our dime because of all the things that were missed in development along the way,” he said.
  • Conservationist Dale Konkol reported on the water quality concerns in Kewaunee County. Konkol served on several of the workgroups that began meeting in 2015 and wrapped up with final recommendations in June. “I think there is a big change in what’s happening right now,” Konkol told the committee. It’s the citizens of Kewaunee County who have pushed the DNR…They have been successful in turning this great big boat – the dairy industry – around. Definitely change is taking place. I truly think because of the pressure being placed.” He mentioned there is now an unprecedented amount of research being done in Kewaunee County. “They are going to be about to identify these sources [of contamination] and who’s the culprit,” Konkol said. Members of the committee questioned Konkol about the bad wells. Supervisor Randy Halstead asked if it was a case of city people moving into the country and not being used to higher bacteria counts in the water (Konkol replied that he knows multi-generational families in Kewaunee County with bad wells). Supervisor John Neinas suggested the EPA had lowered their standards, which led to more wells being identified as contaminated (that has not happened, Konkol said). Supervisor Richard Virlee said maybe it’s just a case of a lot of old, outdated wells and maybe they have to drill new and deeper [that has been tried without success]. “You can rationalize a faulty well test all you want,” Konkol said. “We have to do more. We can’t just chase this around and make excuses.”
  • Konkol also mentioned a new project he is part of that also includes stakeholder workgroups coming up with solutions to deal with our shared resources in a more systematic and collaborative way. The project is sponsored by the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association and the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service. Konkol is serving on the group looking at groundwater quality issues, along with Kewaunee County Conservationist Davina Bonness, dairy farmer and Kewaunee Land Conservation Committee Chair John Pagel, and Mark Borchardt of the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, to name just a few of the members.
  • Conservationist Greg Coulthurst gave a presentation on the mill pond at Forestville Dam County Park. There has been debate about what to do with the shallow mill pond. Coulthurst said he and Konkol went fishing there recently and talked to other anglers who say they catch big bass. He described it as very shallow with poor clarity. One idea that was floated was to allow the pond to drain through the dam in the fall and push sediments around to build islands in the pond. Coulthurst said more investigation is needed.
  • The committee also talked about the Dunes Lake Watershed Project. The county recently received a $10,000 anonymous donation to help with the dredging effort that will start next month. Coulthurst said the dredging machine is already in place, and, depending on final funding, they hope to remove between 3,000 to 5,000 cubic yards of sediment. Coulthurst said he hopes work on a parking lot above the old landfill in that area will start soon, but it is currently held up in federal review.

Article Comments