Kewaunee County officials have introduced a draft ordinance that would more strictly regulate liquid manure spreading on farm fields in the county and another draft ordinance that would require manure haulers to be county-certified.
The proposals, prepared by County Conservationist Davina Bonness and County Administrator Scott Feldt, were delivered to the Board of Public Health on Monday and the County Board’s Land and Water Conservation Committee on Tuesday. They are scheduled to go before the Personnel, Advisory and Legislaive Committee on Wednesday.
Bonness told members of the Land and Water Committee that they received technical assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.
By passing local ordinances, the county has greater control over regulating practices such as spray irrigation of liquid manure than if they wait for the state to pass regulations, she said.
“If the DNR were to pass a rule tomorrow allowing spray, allowing end guns, we would have to allow that,” Bonness said. “We cannot go stricter than the state law.”
Among provisions of the draft Waste Irrigation Ordinance are requirements that liquid manure be distributed using low-pressure systems and cannot be sprayed – the liquid must be spread by droplets. Also, the spreader cannot be higher than 18 inches off empty land or below the canopy of any crop.
The ordinances are Kewaunee County’s latest effort to deal with the practice of spreading large amounts of liquid manure onto fields in the winter and fall, which is considered a major source of groundwater contamination issues in the county.
“We cannot continue to do what we’re doing now,” Bonness said. “We cannot continue to do massive unload in spring and massive unload in fall and you will see that system is not working.”
Bonness said a two-year study by USDA scientist Mark Borchardt and others, who plan to present their results at a special public meeting June 7, will demonstrate the need for greater regulation.
“Will this solve everything? No. But it will hopefully get some of the manure out during the growing season when the crops can actually use it,” she said.
The companion Waste Hauler Ordinance requires that any hauler, whether private or commercial, has to be certified within Kewaunee County to be able to apply liquid manure, Feldt said. Farms with 250 or fewer animals would be exempt.
The administrator said the draft ordinances will be vetted by all three committees, with discussion starting in June. There was no discussion Tuesday because the ordinances were not specified on the agenda for discussion, he said.
The soonest they could be enacted is probably August, Feldt said.
“That’s a total of three months for committees to take a look and ask questions, express concerns, and if need be changes could be made,” Feldt said.
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