Mar 13, 2017

Wisconsin Pollution Permits, Already Weak, Left to Expire by State Water Protectors

Protecting our lifeblood. Citizens rally at Wisconsin capitol in
February 2017. Hundreds more expected March 15, 2017 to
oppose water give-away bills (Senate Bill 76, Assem Bill 105)
pushed by Wisconsin Republicans,
(Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors)
Updated - Madison, Wisconsin — When viewing disasters from afar like typhoons striking third-world countries, we flip the channel.

Who wants to see the break-downs of safe water and sanitation systems, and depictions of fecal vectors carrying zoonotic bacterial disease, for example.

But we know to never drink water poisoned by feces.

Yet, in Wisconsin and other rural states whose governments have been taken over by Big Agriculture, (aka: industrialized ag, CAFOs, (Confined Agricultural Feeding Operations), the poison lobby), ag industries routinely replicate on small scales the effects of natural disasters.

Industrial agricultural operations emit millions of tons of liquidized, aerosolized and untreated cow feces into the environment to tragic health, economic, and social effects, (Yelle, Mal Contends), (Paulot and Jacob, NASA), (Ikerd, University of Missouri-Columbia), (Lundstrom, Cornucopia Institute).

Hundred of farmers, veterans, business owners and the just plain scared are expected at the Wisconsin state capitol March 15 to fight Republican-supported bills to take away protections from safe water. Industry wants the right to deplete water as well as poison water.

Have your ever met a family whose young child was almost poisoned by death by bathing and drinking water? (Midwest Environmental Advocates), (Wisconsin Watch), (Mal Contends). Pope Francis' recently made news with the call, "the earth is essentially a shared inheritance, whose fruits are meant to benefit everyone," a corollary of which is don't poison your neighbor, (Ikerd)

Wisconsin now has over 100s of heavily polluting dairy CAFOs. "Applications to the DNR for dairy CAFOs are approaching cattle populations of 10,000 head each. That’s a far cry from the forty-cow family-run dairies of 25 years ago. In terms of a very common measure of water pollution potential, biochemical oxygen demand, the organic pollution potential of a 10,000 head dairy is equal to 180,000 people. That’s bigger than the city of Green Bay. Green Bay has a waste-water treatment plant. CAFOs do not. A 10,000 head dairy produces enough manure to fill up Lambeau Field where the Packers play all the way to the top of the cheap seats on the fifth story bleachers, ... four times a year," said Gordon Stevenson in an interview with Mal Contends in 2014. Stevenson is a 26-year veteran of the DNR where his last assignment was serving as the Chief of Runoff Management until his retirement in January of 2011.

The pollution is getting worse, and the regulation for the public welfare is getting weaker.

Expired Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, (WPDES) Permits

Mary Dougherty of Bayfield County in northwestern Wisconsin is working with a citizens' group that has successfully stopped the operation of a massive swine CAFO that would devastate arguably the most beautiful region in Wisconsin bordering Lake Superior and national forests, (Facebook), (Slater, Duluth News Tribune), (Mal Contends), (Mal Contends), (Russell, Fox 21-KQDS).

Dougherty has a post in Facebook out that is a must-read.

Dougherty tabulates the number of expired Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, (WPDES), permits. WPDES is French for approval to vector cow feces into the environment and communities.

The EPA notes of cow manure: "When excess nutrients, pathogens, organic matter and solids from manure discharge to surface waters they can cause excess algae growth and deplete the water of oxygen needed by fish and other aquatic life; they can also make the water unsafe for recreational activities and as a source of drinking water. Manure pollutants can also leach through the soil and enter the groundwater, making it unsafe for drinking."

Dougherty found that 31 percent of WPDES approvals are expired. This continues the Republican Party's go-ahead to pollute without consequences.

Writes Dougherty:

I went through the DNR WPDES (CAFO permit) database last week and created a spreadsheet with all the expired CAFO permits in Wisconsin. And guess what?? 93 of the 291 permits for WI CAFOs are expired (nearly 32%).

There are at least 333,930 Animal Units, or nearly 334 million pounds of cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens, producing manure without a current permit in Wisconsin.

This is yet another example of the lack of oversight by the DNR when it comes to CAFOs in Wisconsin. And I lay the responsibility for this alarming and wholly unacceptable situation at the feet of our elected officials in Madison.

They have the power (by providing funds and direction to the DNR) to rectify this situation and they choose NOT to protect citizens from the rampant CAFO pollution poisoning rural communities because they are doing the bidding of Big Ag at the Capitol.

For screen shots of each expired permit, see Expired WDPES Permits in Wisconsin and Facebook.

Last year Wisconsin Public Radio reported, "In their 2017-19 biennial budget request, the DNR proposes increasing staff dedicated to the CAFO program from 17 to 21 by reallocating positions to the CAFO permitting staff."

The staff won't be there to help Wisconsin families and communities. The staff will green-light polluting permits faster.

Expired Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, (WDPES), Permits

By Mary Dougherty

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