Letter to the Editor: In Praise of Water-Pollution Credits

I am writing to compliment reporter Jackson Parr on his very well-written article in the March 29th Peninsula Pulse about a newly proposed state water pollution credit clearinghouse. This is a tough topic to describe in a way that makes it understandable to the reader. I think Mr. Parr did exactly that.

The concept is really very logical. Our point sources of phosphorus contamination are being pressed to make more and more expensive modifications to further reduce the phosphorus they emit into surface water. The point sources, as the article points out, include human water treatment facilities, cheese plants, etc. They are having to spend tremendous amounts of money to make smaller and smaller reductions in discharges. These expenses are then being passed on to the public in the form of higher taxes, fees or food prices.

With the proposed new credit, however, these point sources could trade with farmers such as me. They would essentially be helping us fund innovative farming practices that could reduce phosphorus discharges more than the point source upgrades would and for far less cost. Practices such as grass waterways, bark bed filters, cover crops and no-till farming can all help reduce phosphorus discharges. Unfortunately, in today’s farm economy many of these practices can be unaffordable for the farmer at face value.

The state proposal could link up the funding sources to the farms to help get the extra environmental protection measures in place. With the newly proposed credit market, society could achieve much greater phosphorus runoff emissions at a far lower cost. That is the reason this bill enjoys bipartisan support.

Thanks to the Pulse and Mr. Parr for the coverage of this topic.

Don Niles, DVM, Dairy Dreams

Casco, Wis.