Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Director Davina Bonness was scheduled to be in Wisconsin Dells on Thursday for a meeting of the technical advisory committee working on revisions to state Natural Resources Code NR 151, the regulations that oversee water quality issues.
A key part of the work is developing rules more specific to the unique fractured karst topography in the Door-Kewaunee Peninsula, where there can be only 5 feet of topsoil or less above bedrock. Kewaunee County has adopted an ordinance prohibiting the spreading of manure during the winter months in area with thin topsoil, to protect the groundwater underneath.
“That’s a huge step to have the DNR and the governor open NR 151 to address karst topography,” Bonness said during a report to the Land & Water Conservation Committee this week.
The panel plans one more meeting in March before the revisions are formally written, she said.
“They’ll write the rules in April, and then in May-June we’ll have I think contentious public hearings, it’ll go through revisions again and then hopefully go to the Legislature for passage in January 2018,” Bonness said.
The process is getting some resistance especially in southwest counties that are not as far along in implementing the existing rules, she said.
“I don’t get into that because my job is to get new rules into Northeast Wisconsin,” Bonness said. “We have clearly implemented NR 151, we have clearly implemented nutrient management, and those rules are clearly not working to our landscape.”
Supervisor Lee Luft, who was chairman of the recently disbanded Groundwater Task Force, chided committee chairman John Pagel for recent stands by the Dairy Business Association resisting the decision last summer to launch into the revisions.
“I was really hoping as a founding member (of DBA) you guys could support what’s being attempted because you’re not,” Luft said.
Bonness said the lobbyists “haven’t really kicked back toward our Northeast region – they’re kicking back in the areas where they don’t have the current rules done.”
But Luft pressed the issue, saying DBA and the recently formed Peninsula Pride Farms coalition “say that they’re supportive of the effort, but when push comes to shove they’re working very hard behind the scenes to see that none of this goes through.”
Pagel said he didn’t want to get into that debate during Monday’s committee meeting.