Nov 8, 2015

Clean Water, Clean Air Advocates Stand Together at Capitol

Rhonda Cain-Carrell of Wisconsin Rapids
speaks at the state capitol. Cain-Carrell
works with the group, Protect Wood
County and Its Neighbors

Photo: Criste Sullivan-Greening
Update: Lynn Utesch is now a candidate for the Wisconsin state assembly's first district, and is making protecting water the major campaign commitment.
Madison, Wisconsin - About 100 people from across the state assembled at the state capitol on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

They want farms not factories, a major polluter of the water and air they're fighting to protect.

Lynn Utesch is a small farmer living in Kewaunee County and works with Kewaunee CARES (Facebook) in northeast Wisconsin.

He addressed the crowd and said heavily polluted Kewaunee County is a "cautionary tale" for the state.

"We have gathered here from all over Wisconsin, unified, to protect our water. ... All three of our rivers [in Kewaunee County] ... are on the EPA's impaired waters list. Thirty percent of our wells tested are contaminated with Ecoli and/or nitrates."

Citizen activism across the state is springing up as state protection for water deceases.

The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism begins a series today reporting on an unsustainable trajectory that sees 100,000s of Wisconsin citizens now without safe water at the faucet.

Clean, pure water is advocated by about 100 people at the capitol
Photo by Mary Dougherty of Citizens Concerned about
Lake Superior CAFOs
Ron Seely and his team's water series is entitled "Failure at the Faucet."

Writes Seely:

Lynda Cochart’s water from her private well was so poisoned by salmonella, nitrate, E. coli and manure-borne viruses that one researcher compared the results from her Kewaunee County farm to contamination in a Third World country. She suspects the problem is related to the county’s proliferation of large livestock operations, although testing did not pinpoint the source.

'Realize that we can’t drink, brush our teeth, wash dishes, wash food; we can’t use our water,' Cochart wrote in a letter last year to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking intervention in the county’s drinking water problems.

'Our water is on our mind all the time. If drinking it doesn’t kill us, the stress of having it on our mind and worrying about it all the time will.'

Utesch of Kewaunee CARES noted the failure of the state Dept of Natural Resources to protect water. He also pointed out the DNR is working to assist Bi Ag polluters, "streamlining the permitting process for CAFOs (Concentrated (Confined) Agricultural Operations)," as reflected in Scott Walker's last budget signed in July before Walker began his aborted run for the presidency.

Don Ystad of Rome, Wisconsin and Rome and Saratoga Friendly
Photo by John Endrizzi

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