LETTER: With nitrate limits, farmers and clean water can co-exist

To Ozaukee Press:

In a state as abundant in water as Wisconsin, it’s easy to take for granted the rich groundwater resources running below our feet. Our Great Lakes contain 20% of the world’s fresh surface water, and there is more than enough water available for drinking, recreation, wildlife and business. However, growing concerns over the public health and ecological impacts of agricultural and industrial pollutants in our water mean we must re-evaluate how we manage water resources in Wisconsin.

Unfortunately, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recently announced it is abandoning efforts to develop regulations that would reduce nitrate pollution in drinking water, claiming “the statutory process and associated firm timelines established by the Legislature for rule-making do not allow adequate time for the department to complete this proposed rule.”

In 2020, Wisconsin Farmers Union participated in a series of DNR technical advisory committee meetings to address the issue in a way that took agricultural, environmental and public health concerns into consideration.

We must acknowledge that agricultural runoff is a contributor to water pollution in this state. Many farmers are aware of this fact and are actively working to address it through improved conservation practices and collaborative educational efforts, such as farmer-led watershed councils.

The Wisconsin Farmers union recognizes a need to safeguard our resources against bad actors. Wisconsin has over 1,500 impaired waterways, and many private wells in Wisconsin do not meet safe drinking water standards due to excess bacteria or nitrates. Excess nutrients in surface water cause toxic algae blooms, which threaten humans and wildlife and destroy the tourism and recreation industries.

Our members support efforts to preserve the quality of all waters in Wisconsin. Furthermore, we support regulations that will restrict the spreading of manure on frozen soils in areas of the state deemed to be sensitive.

For too long, we have been presented with a false choice between agriculture and clean water. We believe it is possible to have clean water, thriving family farms and vibrant rural economies, and that farmers can be champions in this effort for ourselves, our environment and future generations.

We challenge the Wisconsin Legislature, Gov. Tony Evers and all who care about water quality in this state to recommit to protecting water for the future.

Nick Levendofsky
Wisconsin Farmers Union
Chippewa Falls



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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