State Rep. Joel Kitchens, whose district includes Kewaunee County, issued a statement Monday about the Department of Natural Resources’ release of proposed new manure management rules for the karst geo-region.

Comments are being accepted through Aug. 7 on the economic impact of the proposed changes.

“These are rules that our district has been waiting on for a long time,” Kitchens said. “Our shallow soils and fractured bedrock have created groundwater and surface water contamination issues that we are all far too familiar with. The statewide standards, even when rigorously implemented, are simply not stringent enough to protect the water in our geo-region and so specific new regulations are needed.”

Kitchens said he was encouraged by positive comments from both Clean Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Dairy Business Association about the rules.

“After taking the time to review the proposed new rules, I am left enthused that they are a leap in the right direction and a foundation for a long-term solution,” he said. “The new rules prohibit manure spreading within 250 feet of a drinking well, prohibit any manure spreading on less than 2 feet of soil, and prohibit manure spreading on frozen or snow-covered ground with less than 5 feet of soil.”

Kitchens said a public hearing is planned in September.

Scott Laeser, a water quality specialist with Clean Wisconsin, called the rule a good first step.

“The final rules should have even stronger requirements on the shallowest soils and they must require all farms to have winter spreading plans. Winter is an exceedingly risky time of year to be applying manure,” Laeser said.

Laeser said the revisions to NR 151 stem from a 2014 petition by Clean Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates, and local citizens asking the Environmental Protection Agency to use its federal Safe Drinking Water Act authority to study the source of polluted groundwater in Kewaunee County and to provide clean drinking water to citizens.

The preliminary draft of the economic impact analysis and a draft of the rule order are available as a clickable link by going to http://dnr.wi.gov and searching for the keyword phrase “Administrative Rules.”

Comments may be submitted electronically to DNRNR151Revisions@dnr.wisconsin.gov or mailed to Mike Gilbertson, Water Resources Management Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 7921 WT/3, Madison, WI 53707.