The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee is in the process of holding hearings and taking testimony on the 2017-19 state budget. Now is the time for citizens to let their legislators know their feelings about Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget.
My husband and live on 8 acres of land composed of wetlands, woods, gardens and lawn. We are surrounded by farms. We obtain our water from a well. Our water has always been odorless and tasted good, and we have consumed it without fear. However, recently our feelings have changed. We are concerned about possible future contamination of our water.
Everyone values clean, safe drinking water. I am sure many of you, like us, has reacted with horror while watching picture of brown water coming from faucets in Kewaunee County or hearing accounts of illnesses linked to contaminated water. Recently a study showed that 18 percent of private wells in Wiscosnin are contaminated with bacteria and an estimated 100,000 wells are contaminated with nitrates.
Some of these problems are linked to Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, which have increased from less than 150 in 2005, to the current 291. As CAFOs have increased and high capacity wells multiplied, toxic drinking water is becoming a reality for hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites . Yet DNR staff has decreased making it more difficult to adequately monitor these CAFOs. Currently, 93 of the 291 CAFOs have expired permits due to backload.
In the 2017-19 WI State budget, legislators should adequately fund the County Soil and Water Conservation Departments doing away with the governor's proposed budget cut of $800,000 per year. The County Conservation staff plays an important role in nutrient management planning, water testing and monitoring services, and the design and construction of manure storage facilities. It is also important that pollution oversight for large farms be kept at the DNR instead of being placed under the Agriculture Department as proposed.
Finally In this budget, funds should be restored to the DNR so that they have adequate staff to monitor water quality and insure compliance with existing regulations.
Mary Filion-Zuelsdorf, Brandon