Kewaunee County Adopts NR 151 Agricultural Standards, Door is Next

At its Sept. 19 meeting, the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors adopted the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ NR 151 as part of Kewaunee County’s Chapter 39 Ordinance with unanimous approval.

NR 151 was revised July 1 to include targeted performance standards and prohibitions in respect to the application of manure in areas of Silurian dolomite with a depth to bedrock of 20 feet or less.

Since 2015, the DNR and Kewaunee County in collaboration with state, federal and local agencies, farmers, nonprofits, citizens and those impacted with unsafe wells, developed Best Management Practice Workgroup recommendations that became the pillar for the State of Wisconsin to adopt stronger standards for land spreading of manure in the Silurian dolomite aquifer.

“I applaud everyone’s hard work, long hours and dedication that made it possible to adopt these ‘first of their kind’ Silurian dolomite performance standards that provide another layer of protection to our groundwater resource that so many of our citizens rely on every day,” said Davina Bonness, director of the county’s Land and Water Conservation Department. “Success can happen when all parties collaborate to protect a common natural resource.”

“I think most folks will agree we have come a long way from just a few years ago. I think it is safe to say no other community has done as much to advance the cause of clean ground and surface water as ours,” said county supervisor Lee Luft. “There are many folks to thank for our progress in these areas, from those Kewaunee County citizens who were so consistent in their efforts to bring and keep water quality issues at the forefront, to those in government who took the time to listen and respond, to those community leaders who recognized that clean water and a healthy environment are critical to our health, safety, and quality of life, and to the voters who overwhelmingly approved the Public Health and Groundwater Protection Ordinance and voted to elect representatives concerned about our environment, and to those in the farming community who have stepped forward and are implementing new farming practices that improve soil health and reduce the potential for water contamination, there is no shortage of folks who deserve to be recognized. My sincere thanks to you all. There is still more work to do.  We will need to work together to take on the challenges identified in the Natural Resources Conservation Service plan and we need to complete the Total Maximum Daily Load studies and continue the adoption of environmentally friendly farming practices but the outlook for our community is certainly a lot brighter today thanks to all that have chosen to make a difference here.”

The Door County Board of Supervisors will consider the revisions at its Sept. 27 meeting, after the revisions were approved by the Land Conservation Committee at its Sept. 13 meeting.

Erin Hanson, director of Door County’s Soil and Water Conservation Department, told the committee these new targeted standards came about when the DNR realized current standards were not doing the job.

“We should be relatively enthused about this because I think this will do more to protect water quality than any other thing that has happened since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here since 1997,” Corporation Counsel Grant Thomas told the committee.

Mike Vandenhouten, the only non-county supervisor on the seven member board and a farmer himself, said despite that it will be a challenge to some farmers, others are prepared to go above and beyond the standards.

“It’s something that’s needed in the community for agriculture to co-exist,” he said.

“A farmer has a right to farm, but it does not supersede my right to have clean water,” said committee chair Ken Fisher.

After discussing the fee structure of the revisions – the same $350 variance fee will be used as is used by the Resource Planning Committee when it grants variances – the committee voted in favor of the revisions and sent it on to the full board.

For more information on what the NR 151 standards require, visit and search for “NR 151.”

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