Groups Demand Investigation of CAFO Contamination

Citizen organizations and environmentalists urged federal and state authorities to investigate and take all necessary enforcement actions against a massive dairy factory farm in northeast Wisconsin that may be contaminating local residential wells and polluting a stream that feeds Lake Michigan.

The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), Kewaunee Citizens Advocating Responsible Environmental Stewardship (Kewaunee CARES), and Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin recently sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The letter contained evidence that Kinnard Farms Inc.’s practice of spreading millions of gallons of liquid manure on local fields every year is contributing to bacteria and nitrate pollution in groundwater, drinking water wells and Casco Creek, which drains into Lake Michigan. The groups are urging officials to investigate further and require Kinnard to cease and clean up any unlawful pollution.

“Town of Lincoln residents deserve to have the longstanding pollution in their community addressed, and enforcement action taken against one of the known contributors to the widespread contamination taking place in this karst region in Kewaunee County. This contamination has a direct impact upon citizen’s accessibility to clean drinking water, and is accompanied by the threats to human health and severe quality of life issues. Rural residents live daily with the threats of contaminated water in their homes, the financial stresses of buying bottled water, and the continued costs of well testing, which is a financial burden to many, while state and federal regulatory agencies do not aid in assistance,” said Lynn Utesch, family farmer and member of Kewaunee CARES.

Dean Hoegger of Clean Water Action Council stated, “With more than a third of Kewaunee County wells tested showing contamination from bacteria or nitrates, or both, it is with utmost urgency that the Wisconsin DNR and the EPA must take action to protect the waters of Kewaunee County. All of the county’s citizens have rights to these waters as an unpolluted natural resource.”

Kinnard Farms is an industrial-scale dairy operation in the Town of Lincoln with plans to expand further. The business houses 5,822 animal units and generates about 35 million gallons of manure a year, which it spreads on 5,000 acres of nearby farmland. Kinnard has a permit that will allow it to expand to 8,710 animal units by late 2017, after which it will generate about 70 million gallons of manure a year.

“Allowing Kinnard Farms to increase its herd size by 50 percent would be extremely detrimental in light of the problems with providing safe disposal of the millions of gallons of waste from the current herd,” added Hoegger.

A 2014 survey of 10 Kewaunee County wells found that 70 percent of the wells were positive for bacterial contamination, and 30 percent had contaminants specific to cattle. Although nutrient pollution and contaminated wells are county-wide problems, well tests show significant pollution in the area around Kinnard and its spreading fields. In fact, in Oct. 2014, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Boldt declared that the extraordinarily high incidence of contaminated drinking water wells in the area surrounding Kinnard and its waste application fields is attributable to a “massive regulatory failure.”

The three groups are asking EPA and Wisconsin officials to investigate what they believe are violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act.

To read a copy of the letter to EPA and Wisconsin officials, visit: