County develops CAFO ordinance
A Douglas County working group is moving ahead with regulations that would guide concentrated animal feeding operations before one locates in the county. The Douglas County Livestock Operations Study Group directed staff to develop an ordinance u...
A Douglas County working group is moving ahead with regulations that would guide concentrated animal feeding operations before one locates in the county.
The Douglas County Livestock Operations Study Group directed staff to develop an ordinance using Bayfield County's large-scale concentrated animal feeding operations ordinance as a model. The group stopped short of including more stringent guideline for the Douglas County's watersheds - although that's an option that will be reviewed at a later date.
Bayfield County adopted a separate ordinance for animal waste storage and management specific to the Fish Creek Watershed there. The regulation is being contested in court.
"I believe that we should put in the toughest rules we can, and even though they may mean court battles in the future, I think that if enough counties put in tough rules, when they do go into court, they say 'we've got that county, that county, this county that have these tough rules,'" said Supervisor Nick Baker, a member of the group. "It sets a condition and that's my feeling. I just feel we should go very strong in this stuff. They may just look at Douglas County and say we don't want to go to those court battles ... if we're way ahead of the ball, that's what we should be doing."
Baker put forth the motion to begin crafting the ordinance for Douglas County based on the uncontested ordinance adopted by Bayfield County. Supervisor Terry White seconded the motion.
The goal behind the regulations is to protect Douglas County's waterways, before it finds itself facing issues like Kewaunee County, where high levels of bacteria and nitrates are contaminating drinking water. CAFOs are believed to be a source of the contamination.
"I was at a state meeting where they were talking about CAFOs and CAFO regs, and stuff like that," said Douglas County Board Chairman Mark Liebaert. "One of the thoughts that they had was that you need to have the data available before they come in - and we're talking well data, stream data." He said without that data, the county wouldn't be able to say that contamination came from a CAFO that came in.
Douglas County Land Conservationist Christine Ostern said the county has put in a grant application with Wisconsin Coastal Management to do testing on about 100 wells. She said she travels to Madison at the end of the month to give a presentation to the panel that decides where grant funding is distributed. She said she should know more about the county's application in February.
"That would just be a start," Ostern said.
"But it's 100 more than we have," Liebaert said.
The ordinance only deals with operations, and health and safety, and it doesn't require state agency approval, Ostern said of the Bayfield County ordinance. However, she said, it could be challenged by in incoming CAFO.
The study group takes up the draft ordinance when it meets again next month or in March. It will also weigh how to handle watersheds in Douglas County - the challenged portion of the Bayfield County ordinances.
Douglas County has been under a one-year moratorium on CAFO development since September.