Listen Live



Daily Newsletter


Study questions manure regulations

A federal study published by a group of researchers on Wednesday challenges farmers with not following the proper precautions when it comes to spreading manure in Kewaunee County.


The report and an accompanying story from Wisconsin Watch is based on research done by the United States Department of Agriculture approximately five years ago by microbiologist Dr. Mark Borchardt on dozens of private wells in Kewaunee County. It found a high percentage of the wells tested positive for nitrates and coliform caused by cow manure. The study blames improper manure spreading and leaking storage lagoons for much of the contamination, even stating that newer and deeper wells may not even solve the issue for some homeowners. The study predicts that cow manure causes approximately 230 of the 301 cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses in the county per year.


The numbers are not a surprise for Clean Water Action Council Executive Director Dean Hoegger. He believes farmers are putting too much liquid manure on the fields, which makes it easier for pathogens to seep through the fractured bedrock and into the groundwater. He also feels the current regulations placed on farms including the new NR-151 rules are not strong enough.

Though he does refute portions of the report, Peninsula Pride Farms President Don Niles says he respects the research done by the scientists. It makes him eager to see the follow-up study on area wells being performed by the Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department in July and November. He hopes the implementation of the new NR-151 rules, the increased use of digesters, and the creation of different run-off mitigation strategies like cover crops have made a difference

The federal study suggests reducing the impact of cattle manure and introducing multiple policy options to help reduce the risk of getting sick due to cow manure spreading. You can find links to the Wisconsin Watch story written by Coburn Dukehart and the federal study published by Environmental Health Perspectives below.  


Wisconsin Watch: Cow manure predicted to cause most sickness from contaminated wells in Kewaunee County This piece was produced for the NEW News Lab, a local news collaboration in Northeast Wisconsin. The nonprofit Wisconsin Watch ( collaborates with WPR, Wisconsin PBS, other news media and the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by Wisconsin Watch do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.


Federal Study: Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment for Contaminated Private Wells in the Fractured Dolomite Aquifer of Kewaunee County, Wisconsin


Photo: Manure is spread on a farm field during the Door-Kewaunee Watershed Demonstration Farms Networks Spring Field Day at Heims Hillcrest Dairy, in Casco, Wis., on May 1, 2018. A new study predicts that cow manure causes 230 cases of acute gastrointestinal illnesses in Kewaunee County per year. Credit: Tad Dukehart for Wisconsin Watch

Search Our Site


Current Weather



Should local fishing tournaments be required to be weigh-on-the-water only?
Add a Comment
(Fields are Optional)

Your email address is never published.


Sports Poll


Sign up for our Daily Electronic Newspaper!

Plus, Get the latest updates for Local Sports, Obituaries and more delivered to your inbox!