6 thoughts on “In state’s karst area, even good farming may pollute groundwater

  1. The chart lists Cooperstown as a part of Brown County. Shouldn’t that be Manitowoc?

    • Looks that way. The county identifications are straight from the DNR data, and I’m guessing someone there googled and found the Cooperstown that’s in Brown County, Illinois. I’ll make that fix. Thanks!

  2. As a resident of and business owner in Kewaunee County I can guarantee that these issues are causing a great divide in the community. Surface and groundwater are both heavily polluted and STILL local action and state funding are being slowed down by agriculture interests.

    Our beautiful lakeshore community is being treated as a dumping ground for industrial, agricultural and human waste. Green Bay pipes in water from the Kewaunee County shores for their residents. It may take a Toledo-like event to truly grab the states attention to stop land spreading in vulnerable areas and consider the amount of waste distributed county wide.

  3. A thought provoking article. It is interesting that the data provided in the studies is about manure, bacteria and viruses while the comments from the Dairy lobby, DATCP and DNR are about nitrogen contamination.

  4. So shut down agriculture and import your food from China and mess the land up there. Move to a project highrise in a big city. But, don’t forget your municipal sewage sludge contains up to 74,000 chemicals that are unregulated. Sterilize yourself and quit having babies. Then let 5,000,000 Islamic immigrants come to replace you. Kill yourselves already!

  5. In addition, regarding government programs to regulate septic systems the following things are regular parts of such programs:
    1) The majority of septic inspectors typically don’t know all their own rules or understand the soil and wastewater science and construction standards upon which the rules are based.
    2) The majority also are unable to detect cheating by soil evaluators or even installers, the few who are intrepid and intelligent enough to realize it typically are told to shut up.
    3) Program managers and administrators typically will not make waves against cheaters and some want cheaters to oil squeaky wheels which could otherwise cause them hardship politically.
    4) Cheating is a fact and usually the rule in a program and it creates and unfair economic playing field.
    5) Septic programs encourage the public do be dishonest.
    6) Septic programs usually punish the honest financially.
    7) Septic programs usually reward the dishonest financially, including soil evaluators, installers, builders, and homeowners.
    8) Because of the effects of cheating, septic system regulation programs are more than half undermined of their purpose.
    9) Program regulations are usually based on other codes and not tailored for a given area’s soils and geology, or economics or concerns/desires of the citizens of the county.
    10) Some regulations are outdated and stupid yet most people who should be making changes never understand it and these rules are never changed.
    11) While no one has ever been killed by a septic system, lateral flow (downhill) through soil is typically never given credit for its treatment and disposal ability, purely out of fear and CYA action, resulting in unnecessarily expensive systems, which typically have an annual maintenance cost rivalling a sizable and economically harmful fraction of annual property tax bills.
    12) Proprietary system manufacturers are usually on the hunt seeking to legislate the public into having to purchase their systems, and they seem to have a hayday in this usually. When these are not required by law they cost about 10 to 12 thousand dollars; when required by law the price is about 15 to 20 thousand dollars.
    13) Usually, if there is any good progress in regulation improvement and program effectiveness, it is only due to a very small group, typically only 3 to 4 individuals. These people are usually Christians and have a Christian world view and each happens to have a skill set which is just right for enabling this progress. When the number of people involved gets over this number, a backwards gradient develops away from progress, and ridiculous and unworkable rules are proposed, which reinforce 4 through 8 above.
    14) Inspectors who really care, know and learn their rules and science, and are hard workers, will half the time be stomped by program managers and end up unemployed or unhappy.
    15) Sometimes, county commissioners will not support a program doing the right things.
    16) Sometimes, state officials wreak havoc on what is right.
    17) Usually, state and county employees will end up caring more about raises and benefits than what they are tasked with doing and who they are supposed to be serving. Un-Godly, unfair, and economically-hurtful permit and inspection fees are the sign of this.
    18) Analysis of permit data, for instance the numbers and percentages of each of the different system types recommended by each soil evaluator working in a county, is the most powerful tool for detecting possible or probable cheating. For instance as was the case in one Midwestern state county, according to the soil survey, 50 to 70% of the soils would require a modified standard system and another 10 to 15% an alternative system, cheating is highly likely indicated when one particular soil evaluator had a 92% rate of straight, standard, unmodified septic systems in 600 evaluations over a 4-year period. There was also the fact that this individual never had a single sand-lined trench system when it is virtually inevitable in this particular county to have at least 3 or 4 a year, minimum, if working in the county. Out of 600 permits probably 2 to 5 percent should have been in this soil type.
    19) Unless proficient people have already seen to the problem being solved, many septic tanks, brand new, leak. Demonstrations have been done with tanks set up in a parking lot and filled with water; too many spout water out the sides like fountains. Others leak around the seam in two part tanks which have inadequate gaskets, a top half on the bottom half. Some will fall apart in the tank hole during installation, the concrete crumbling or breaking. Some with leaks will self-seal over time, others do not, as in the case of one two-piece tank which was found to have been leaking out the seam and down the tank hole in a very highly permeable soil over the entire time it had been in the ground, a period of something like 15 years; it was discovered after repeated failed well tests. If tanks are not bedded in a material such a pea gravel, large rocks or protrusions of bedrock are highly likely to cause differential settling and breakage of the tank.
    20) Cows are typically excellent waste disposers; they distribute their waste over a wide area, they place it in or on the topsoil, and they apply it in doses.
    21) It is worth remembering that in some longtime feedlots (nonkarst non highly permeable soils), after abandonment, phosphorus was found to have not made it more than 5 or 6 feet deep into the soil.
    22) Most of the problems with contamination of groundwater from septic systems are due to leaking tanks and trenches that are too deep and below the zone with a high enough oxygen diffusion rate into the soil for a healthy component of aerobic treatment.
    23) Logically, granted the cheating, one thing septic inspections need to include is a surprise spot-check inspection on at least a percentage of sites, and some occasional monitoring from a distance surreptitiously. This is because cheating installers using bogus soil evaluations in soils they know have high risk of problems are highly likely to dig very deep trenches or at least some spots of very deep trench in some portion of an absorption field, to ensure ‘percolation’, and to do this before or after the usual inspection visits.
    24) If water wells are not grouted on the outside of the well casing in the annulus space between the casing and the borehole, the annulus space becomes a conduit for potential groundwater contamination for whatever length the casing is not grouted, as far as I know.
    25) Good septic system regulation programs that can be highly effective are possible. They require special individuals, and to be based on soil science, wastewater science, construction science, with standards coordinated based on these things, input from the local county, consideration for economics, and proficiency and diligence in inspection, management, and administration, with support from county commissioners. All it take for a program to be severely impaired is one stupid manager or administrator.
    I apologize for the tone of my other comment. Don’t anybody kill themselves. I do think we are slowly killing our country, however, and if it doesn’t change it will go to someone else and they certainly won’t take care of the environment.