Manure storage was a hot topic when the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Committee met Jan. 14 in the Northwoods Center at Nicolet College. Oneida County zoning director Karl Jennrich facilitated the discussion with the committee.
"Originally the thought was Oneida County should create a confined animal feedlot operation to regulate these largescale feed lots," Jennrich said. "After talking to various counties, they suggested, instead of looking at the confined area feedlot operation, they were more concerned about water quality slash the stuff that comes from these large operations."
That being said, Jennrich told the committee, they recommended going to a manure storage ordinance. The ordinance, he said, would not be a zoning ordinance, so it would be county-wide, and would also include unzoned towns. It would be a standalone ordinance.
He used an Iowa County ordinance and tweaked it slightly to fit Oneida County. He asked the board to review the ordinance and to look at ordinances from other counties to see if there may be better ideas. In various other counties, Jennrich said, the application and the fees associated with complying with the ordinance would come to planning and zoning. From there the land and water conservationist, Michele Sadauskas in the case of Oneida County, would do the technical review and issue the permit. As far as enforcement, most counties' zoning departments handle that, Jennrich said, whether those actions would be a letter to correct or citations, would be determined by zoning.
Jennrich said he was asked to attend a meeting in Sugar Camp earlier this month to discuss the ordinance. The planning and zoning committee asked that he have the discussion with unzoned towns in the county to gather their input, he explained.
Committee chair Bob Mott asked if there would be a yearly inspection of operations that would be affected by this ordinance. Jennrich said he would make note of that and that many of the counties he researched did that, but others only inspected when there was a complaint.
He said the only complaint he had heard of regarding manure storage came from an operation in Vilas County where they had dry-stacked manure for "years and years and years" and it finally had gotten so large that it started to affect a nearby wetland.
The ordinance would not be concerned, necessarily, with the number of animals in an operation or its size. It would be concerned with manure storage only. Mott said he felt, in Oneida County, it would be more likely to affect horse operations than any other type of animal. He said some operations dry stack the manure and spread it at a later date.
Mott asked about Iowa County's ordinance and how long it had been in effect. He was looking to better understand how effective the ordinance had been, he said. Jennrich told him it had been in effect for years. He said the only thing it would not apply to would be exotic animals such as a zoo, but there are special regulations under which those would operations would fall.
Jennrich said he was not aware of any manure storage units within the county, noting most beef operations were pasture operations. Regardless of how many animals in an operation, the ordinance, he said, would cover the actual storage of the manure itself.
"Where it may impact these horse operations, or beef or whatever operations, is unconfined manure stacks," Jennrich said. "An unconfined manure stack means a quantity of manure that is at least 175 cubic feet in volume, which covers the ground's surface to at least a depth of two inches and is not confined to a manure storage facility, livestock housing facility, barnyard runoff control facility or is not covered or contained in a manner that prevents stormwater access in direct runoff to surface water or leaching of pollutants groundwater."
Jennrich used the example of a riding stable where manure is stacked. That operation would be subject to this ordinance. He equated that to 10-11 dumptruck loads.
He reiterated it had nothing to do with the number of animals, but with any storage unit that may be in place, or the amount of dry-stacked manure. It would not, Jennrich said, have any bearing on animals such as cows that would "do their business" in a field or pasture.
The committee members said they would review the Iowa County ordinance and recommend any changes. Mott asked why the county could not have a manure storage ordinance as well as a CAFO ordinance. Jennrich said the county could do that, and it may make sense to continue on toward the CAFO regulation once the manure storage ordinance has passed.
County conservation meeting
In other business, Mott reported on a meeting of land and water conservation officials from across the state he attended in December. In one breakout session, he said, conservationists from each county had the floor to discuss what was happening in their county. He said the most common themes of concern were water quality, manure, and huge water, rain, and flood events were the top areas. There was also a discussion about flood mitigation projects, particularly in the Coulee Region, he added.
Roads, bridge construction and culvert size specs, he said, were a concern and areas that may need to be adjusted.
"There was a prediction that by 2040, we would double the number of three-inch rain events that we would have per year, and a three-inch rain event is a pretty significant rain," he said.
Nitrates in water, turning to nitrites, and the effects on health, he said, were very eye-opening. He listed several maladies attributed to consumption of water with nitrites.
Lake district reports
Several lake districts have held meetings over the last month, some which were attended by committee members.
One of those was the Lake Nokomis district.
Board member Alan Van Raalte attended that meeting and offered a report.
He said the district was looking at reworking the lake management plan. The committee for the district was working with Onterra to do that, he said. There are currently several plans in place for the waterbody, he said, including one for the Little Rice Flowage, another of Lake Nokomis itself, and yet another for Bridge Lake.
The intent is to have one plan encompassing all of those bodies of water, with the plan including Eurasian watermilfoil (EWM) management.
Cattail was also discussed, he said.
The issue with the cattail, according to Van Raalte, is some of the cattail in the northwestern part of Lake Nokomis is an invasive, southern cattails. Some abatement was able to be done up until the last year or two, he said.
County board member Jim Winkler attended the Thunder Lake District meeting and reported on that to the committee as well.
The biggest issue was an ongoing one regarding the dam near Thunder Lake, he said.
A motion was made by the committee to send a letter to Sen. Tom Tiffany regarding the condition of the dam. There was a breach in the dam, which Winkler said he witnessed last summer.
The concern of the lake district was the simple dam, which is comprised largely of just two boards, could wash out with the water flowing into Thunder Marsh.
The dam, Winkler said, is owned by the Town of Three Lakes. The land on which the dam sits is owned by the Department of Natural Resources.
The lake district, he said, is trying to protect the quality of their fish as well as their aeration system. However, because of the different entities in ownership of various parts of the problem, the district has had problems resolving its concerns.
For that reason, it was determined that writing a letter to Tiffany might spark some action.
Winkler said the Town of Three Lakes had reportedly spent $100,000 for dam repairs last year. That repair, he said, consisted of driving two stakes down through where two new boards were placed, he said.
However, one of the stakes had already blown out. Someone, Winkler said, had resecured the other stake, in order to keep the entire dam from being compromised.
The letter brought to the committee by Winkler was a draft, and had not yet been sent to Tiffany.
Jennrich said he had just received an email regarding grant applications for dam rehabilitation from the DNR. Because the town owns the dam, the town would have to apply for the grant to do any repairs, he explained.
Winkler said the lake district members felt as though they were going around and around, with people only pointing fingers at each other. They had no idea what they were losing as far as fish they were stocking due to the breach, and were frustrated by the entire process.
Mott asked if there were any suggestions for Thunder Lake. Jennrich said he was not sure what he could do, but he would look into it.
A suggestion was also made that the UW-EX lakes specialist Pat Goggin might have some ideas for a solution. Winkler said he would suggest Goggin be invited to the district's June meeting.
The next meeting of the Oneida County Land and Water Conservation Committee is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 9, at the normal meeting venue, in the lower level of the Oneida County Airport.
Beckie Gaskill may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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