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Ordure compromise on the horizon

Land Conservation Committee

POSTED March 8, 2018 9:44 a.m.

DARLINGTON – Manure storage seems to have made headway on a non-agenda discussion at the Land Conservation Committee on Monday, March 5.
    Micah Bahr, committee member, brought up the subject of manure storage, asking if it’s a dead issue. Bahr asked, “Where are we at?” David Hammer, committee chairman, answered, “Where do you want to be at?” Bahr said, “Completed and done. I started coming to these meeting five years ago and I think we’re further behind than we were five years ago.”
    Hammer said, “If you’re going to override the DNR, I think it’s a waste of money.”
    Bahr, “I wasn’t asking to override anything the DNR has control of. We’ve discussed using poured concrete and not cinder blocks. We just haven’t come to an agreement on cubic feet. We have the ability to do that as a committee, that’s our job.”
    Hammer said, “I don’t know if we have the personnel to audit it, check it, make sure it’s done right.”
    Terry Loeffelholz, Land Conservation/Planning Zoning Department head, said, “The volume issue would be huge. Instead of using cinder blocks and require using poured concrete. Would we be requiring an engineer? Are we issuing permits for every structure or are we just saying you have to build the pits out of poured concrete and not blocks and we won’t be issuing permits? If we’re issuing permits and requiring an engineering review, that gets a lot more complicated and expensive.”
    Jack Sauer, County Board chair, asked, “Do they need permits and engineer review now?”
    Loeffelholz answered, “Not if they are under 5,000 cu. ft. The Amish have been inviting me out (for pits under 5,000 cu. ft.) to document the clay separation in and around these pits.”
    Kriss Marion, committee and county board member, said, “I have been talking with the Amish about this subject. They told me if permits and engineering is required, it costs them $10,000. That seems onerous to me. Even though I am a big fan of trying to eliminate any manure leakage, big or small.”
    Sauer said, “The poured cement in lieu of cinder block I think is the right thing. I think we need to be simple on the rule that we’re going to impose here. I don’t think we need to permit the process, I think that creates a lot more work. I don’t think, other than requiring poured cement, we need to do anything different. Otherwise it’s going to create a nightmare in red tape. That one change won’t cost that much more money and in the long run the poured concrete won’t deteriorate like cinder block will.”
    Ed James, committee member, said, “I don’t believe we need a special ordinance on those. We have a manure storage ordinance in place. The farming economy is pretty sour right now. I think we have to address the cinder block walls. We could say if your putting in cinder block, you need to have a permit. If your using poured concrete – no permit needed.” The committee concurred.
    Loeffelholz asked, “Would you like to put this on the agenda for the next meeting so you could act on this.” The committee answered – yes.
Groundwater
    Marion handed out a model of a possible subcommittee that would address groundwater concerns. The subcommittee would report to the Conservation and Planning/Zoning Department committee. Marion said, “This would be a limited term subcommittee that would handle groundwater issues including – septics, wells, agriculture, identify threats, studies, etc., so we’re not always talking about groundwater in this committee. It’s not something that we have handled effectively in this committee.”
    Sauer said, “I’ve never been a big fan of subcommittees. I know this committee is charged with doing a lot of things, but that’s what this committee is for.” Bahr said, “I’m in agreement with you. I think legislatively that’s what we are supposed to do. The legislative intent is – for this committee to do it. I think a subcommittee gets too diluted out. If the subcommittee comes to this committee and has a recommendation, this committee hasn’t shown they will step up and do anything.”
    Marion said, “What’s nice about a subcommittee is you get to hear some of those voices louder. This committee has struggled to move forward on groundwater issues. It’s a lot for a committee to understand and to get done.” No action was taken. Marion stated she would bring it up again.”
    In other business:
    •Kim Winslow was introduced as the new administrative assistant for Lafayette County Conservation/Planning and Zoning Dept. Winslow was formerly Chief Deputy County Treasurer and will be replacing a retiring Nikki Larson.
    •Monica Yates-Olsen, FSA Lafayette County Executive Director, had a printed hand out report and was not present.
    •Melissa Bartz, USDA programs, had a printed hand out report and was not present.
    •Discussed a program that will randomly test wells.
    •Approved a turkey donation program. Similar to the deer donation program currently in place. The meat is processed and given out at food pantries.
    •Max Blackbourn, Conservation Technician, gave his report.
    •Discussed the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, Inc. (WLWCA) conference held March 14 – 16.

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