Thursday, April 28, 2016


Your tax dollars are already allocated at the federal level to address the issue of treating water for small wells (private).  Kewaunee County, nor the State of Wisconsin need to re-invent this process.  Read on................

Over the past couple of months Mr. Lee Luft, Chairman of the Groundwater Task Force and Chairman of Finance Committee along with the "Kewaunee Cares" group have been bantering about, the idea that $10,000 of Kewaunee County Taxpayer money should be budgeted to provide "free water and delivery of that water" to county residences who may have a contaminated well.  

Since when is the county in the "grant" business?  And the next question I would ask is, "what is the next item(s) the county is going to be providing?"  Granted, clean water is essential for life, but knowing government it wouldn't be long before they would find another cause to fund!

As we have learned, drilling new wells in high risk areas where a well has gone bad (like the karst areas of Lincoln, Red River, Casco and Luxemburg Townships) is not the answer as in most instances a new well is very likely to go bad in a short period of time.
So, I have been working with Brian Deaner, Community Programs Director Rural Director, of the USDA in an attempt to find a way to provide small well water treatment systems at reasonable costs. 

Subsequent to our initial conversations, Brian set out to find a possible option for us in Kewaunee County.  Brian was able to make contact with a Debra Martin of Great Lakes RCAP (Rural Community Assistance Partnership) out of Ohio regarding our wells situation.  In collaborative conversations with WEP (Water Environmental Program) and RCAP, the consensus was to put forth a treatment solution for our contaminated wells rather than investing in drilling new wells which we have found often times are re-contaminated. 

WEP has determined that the purchase and installation of household well treatment equipment is eligible under the HWWG (Household Water Well Grant) program, and that a packaged membrane filtration system that includes a reverse osmosis filter and an Ultra Violet light (to be placed in the basement where the well water enters the hydro tank) would address the immediate well contamination problems we are experiencing in Kewaunee County.  

Great Lakes RCAP  have received approval to modify their existing HWWG work plan to include serving Kewaunee County. This modification now allows Great Lakes RCAP to offer loans at 1% for up to 11 years to individual homeowners to address the contamination.   The program can be available to Kewaunee County residents within weeks providing it is implemented now by the County.

These treatment packages are estimated at $500-$1,000 per well.  Assuming an average installation of a treatment system is $800, the cost per month to the homeowner with this program would be about $8.00 per month.  This doesn’t include any annual maintenance costs. This should eliminate any idea that local tax dollars would be used to pay for free water, paid for, and delivered with County taxpayer money.  The cost of gasoline to get to a free water location and/or the cost of purchasing bottled water would be more than the $8.00 per month cost. 

I have passed on the entire plan to County officials, so now it will be up to them to implement this program.  

Ironically, the folks at USDA also believe a longer term solution includes treating manure, reducing the amount of water that goes to the fields.  They may be a source of funding going forward to assist Kewaunee County in a Project Phoenix scenario if that proves to be both beneficial and practical.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Peninsula Pride Farms

Yesterday another major positive step in the overall effort to work towards protecting our water in Kewaunee County was taken with the establishment of Peninsula Pride Farms (PPF).  PPF was formed by a group of environmentally concerned farmers and others who will work to improve the watershed areas of our county. I have included their press release in this email.

It should be noted, the initial number of farmers who have joined is near 40 and totally they represent some 31,000 cattle and about 48,000 acres of tillable land. It is anticipated the number of farmer members will grow significantly going forward, as a conscious decision was made to keep the number of participants at a manageable number to start with.    

If you have been following the water issues in the County, you are aware the County Board has been working on this problem with the various agencies, DNR, NRCS, DATCP, etc.  Now with the added voluntary involvement from the stewards of the land, our farmers, taking this important step, I am more convinced than ever that Kewaunee County will produce positive solutions to the problem.

Ron Heuer
Kewaunee County Board Chairman

March 31, 2016

For more information, contact:
Don Niles
Peninsula Pride Farms
Phone: 920-621-3253

Farmers Launch Watershed Initiative in Kewaunee, Southern Door Counties
KEWAUNEE, Wis. (March 31, 2016) — Thirty-five farmers in northeastern Wisconsin, with a handful yet to be counted, announced today they have formed an environmental stewardship coalition.  The goal  of the organization, whose members range in size from 66 cows to 6,000 cows, is to leverage the ingenuity of the agricultural community, university research and scientists to meet water quality challenges.
The group, Peninsula Pride Farms, will focus on more innovative ways to protect and improve ground and surface water through conservation practices and technology in Kewaunee and southern Door counties.
This is the first local collaboration of its kind in an area dealing with decades-long water quality issues.
“Farmers, by nature, are innovative problem solvers,” said Don Niles, a dairy farmer in Casco, Wis., who led the planning for the group. “We can be most effective by working toward solutions in a collaborative manner.”
Peninsula Pride Farms, formed as a nonprofit, will focus on promoting farming methods that create measurable and sustainable improvements. A key to the initiative will be to create benchmarks to for continuous improvement for individual farms that take into account the unique characteristics of each farm’s systems and environmental characteristics.
The group also will provide education and outreach through things like on-farm demonstrations for both farmers and the public.
“We will empower farmers with knowledge, training and shared experiences,” Niles said. “And we will demonstrate how the agricultural community is committed to doing its fair share in making improvements.”
U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble endorsed the approach. The congressman from northeastern Wisconsin has led an intensive collaborative effort to reduce phosphorous runoff in the bay of Green Bay.
“It is vitally important that Kewaunee and southern Door counties work to improve water quality, and I commend local farmers for stepping up and working together to find solutions,” Ribble said.
Niles said Peninsula Pride Farms’ diversity will be a strength.  At the initial meeting, there were forty-six farmers, crop consultants and agri-business leaders participating.
“We are finding ways that dairy, beef, hog and crop farmers, on farms large and small, as well as non-farmers can combine their ideas and energy to shape common, effective solutions that are socially, economically and environmentally sound,” he said.
Dennis Frame, who designed the country’s first Discovery Farms Program while at the University of Wisconsin, is assisting Peninsula Pride Farms. He sees great potential in the initiative.
“This program can bring about dramatic positive changes to farming systems, and I believe that this has the potential, if given adequate time, to be a national model for farmer-led watershed projects,” Frame said.
The new organization also has the backing of one of the most respected and influential environmental groups.
The Nature Conservancy partners with individuals, businesses, governments and nonprofit organizations across the U.S. and 68 other countries to implement science-based conservation practices.
“We recognize agriculture is critical to healthy lives and a strong economy.  In Wisconsin and across the U.S. we are working with farmers and the industry to develop collaborative solutions that help increase productivity while minimizing environmental impacts,” said John Nelson, a project manager for the conservancy.
Nelson, who has been extensively involved in efforts to improve water quality in the Sheboygan River basin and Lake Michigan, was part of the Peninsula Pride Farms steering committee.
“We work with farmers to improve tillage practices, manage manure and other nutrients, utilize cover crops, and develop other innovative solutions to keep nutrients and soil on the land and out of our waters,” Nelson said.
A similar farmer-led alliance in the Yahara River watershed has kept thousands of pounds of phosphorous out of Madison area lakes in the past two years in an effort to reduce algae growth.

Frame, a professor at UW-Extension for the past 33 years, helped get that group off the ground.
“Farmer-led watershed programs have a significant potential to protect water quality because recommendations are coming from people who understand farming and the challenges of making changes to a farming system,” he said.

Mission statement: As farmers and caretakers of the environment, we are committed to protecting, nurturing and sustaining our precious soil, water and air. To foster environmental stewardship, we will promote practices with measurable outcomes that secure and enrich the future of our shared community. 
Philosophy: Our culture is one in which farmers are empowered to continuously improve on practices that affect the environment. Through peer-to-peer mentoring and other forms of support, we challenge ourselves to be models of sustainability. Goals and expectations are high and so, too, is our commitment to each other’s success and the well-being of our community.