A Kewaunee County Board supervisor said Tuesday that Gov. Scott Walker apparently is prepared to sign regulations that limit manure spreading on shallow soil over fragile karst bedrock as approved unanimously by the state Natural Resources Board.
The amendment to NR 151 cleared the NRB on Jan. 24 and is now under administrative review by the state Legislature, which has the power to revise the measure further before sending it to Walker for final approval.
But Supervisor Chuck Wagner said all indications are that the new rules — which affect parts of 15 counties including a large area of Kewaunee and Door counties — will pass the Legislature intact.
The regulations are based in large part on the work of a Department of Natural Resources workgroup in collaboration with the now-dissolved Kewaunee County Groundwater Task Force.
Wagner said Jim VandenBrook, executive director of the Wisconsin Land & Water Conservation Association, has been keeping “a close ear” on the state Assembly and Senate activity on NR 151.
“The governor has already said he will sign it the way it is,” Wagner said during Tuesday’s meeting of the Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Committee, “which means, in an election year the Senate kind of keeps their hands off things, they don’t wanna mess with something the governor already says he’s going to sign.”
Wagner quoted state Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, as saying the measure will also clear the Assembly unscathed.
County Conservationist Davina Bonness recommended that the county consider a local ordinance adopting NR 151 once the process is completed, which would give county officials the option of enforcing the regulations.
If it’s not adopted at the local level, enforcement with regard to larger dairy operations would have to wait until five-year state permits are renewed, Bonness said.
Supervisor Lee Luft commended the Dairy Business Association and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce for deciding not to oppose the new rules.
“It’s important to note that unanimous vote by the Natural Resources Board,” said Luft, who spoke in favor of the rules at the Jan. 24 meeting in Madison. He was impressed by a board member’s comment that “the reason that we’re voting on this today is the relentless support – that’s the word he used – relentless support of people in the communities most affected in the karst areas … tons of people who have not let this issue go away.”
Assistant editor-publisher C.J. Townsend contributed to this report.