Even before the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved new rules regulating manure spreading over sensitive shallow soils, Kewaunee County residents were shifting their focus to the next potential obstacles ahead.
The board Wednesday unanimously approved rules that restrict spreading on land that is 20 feet or less deep over Silurian dolomite, the fractured karst stone underlying parts of 15 counties, including most of Kewaunee and Door counties.
Studies in recent years confirmed the long-suspected theory that pathogens in the manure seeped through the fractures and contaminated the groundwater, especially when land-spreading has been done during the spring thaw and after significant rainfall.
Work groups established by the state Department of Natural Resources and made up of farmers, residents, scientists officials and staff developed recommendations that attempted to strike a balance between agricultural best practices and protection of water quality.
As signals from the DNR and board members indicated the new rules — incorporated into an amendment to administrative rule NR 151 — interested parties started turning their attention to the next step: review of the regulations by the state Legislature.
John Rybski of rural Algoma, who spoke during the public comment period of Tuesday night’s Kewaunee County Board meeting as well as the state board Wednesday, said the next step is for the rules to be sent for review to two legislative committees and ultimately to the Joint Committee for Review Of Administrative Rules, co-chaired by state Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, and state Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan.
”Those committees can say nothing about the regulations, or they can comment and send those regulations back to the DNR to be further revised,” Rybski said.
Because of all of the work invested in developing the revisions, Rybski said he was urging the County Board to contact state Rep. Joel Kitchens and — since the local Senate seat is vacant until the November election — Nass himself to urge that the regulations be adopted in their current form.
About two dozen speakers commented about the NR 151 revisions before the Natural Resources Board voted to adopt them as submitted.