Resources like CWAC, CWA, can only help the HAB cause.

I recently joined a terrific organization, Clean Water Action Council (CWAC) of Northeast WI, which provides superb content for anyone interested in clean water in Wisconsin – in all its forms. Ground, surface, non-point (runoff from communities and agriculture, etc.), and more. For 31 years, CWAC has been working to support legislature, and calling attention to issues that have an impact on clean water in and around Green Bay, WI, including the Fox River Valley, Kewaunee County, and Door County.

CAFO operation - Kewaunee County, WI
CAFO operation – Kewaunee County, WI

Since this area of the Midwest is one that is deeply – and seemingly negatively –  impacted by a wild increase in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), CWAC is a great example of a local group making a difference, and they are not alone.

Indeed, on its site CWAC offers information links and tools that can even extend beyond its target area. An example:

Who are your local water polluters?

Two national websites provide detailed data about pollution sources in local communities. Just type in your zip code and you may find more than you really wanted to know!

The Scorecard, by Environmental Defense

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

For more information:

On a national level, Clean Water Action (CWA) works to promote clean water and a healthy environment, via its network of state organizations.

What does it all mean? Good news — and terrific resources —  for any interested in becoming involved with, or educated about, clean water initiatives.

HAB Activity? Follow The Herd ….

I got curious today, after considering poor Toledo, Ohio’s ongoing battle with Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) in its Western Lake Erie drinking water source. And so, I posed a question: In OH, and WI, where are the preponderance of HABs? And, accordingly, where is the heaviest dairy production?

At the risk of making you, the reader, dig deep to find the information I gathered, I am going to here and now provide you with links to my reference articles:

Western Lake Erie Algae Bloom Projections

2007 State of OH Concentration of accepted Dairy Farm Permits (>700 cows)

Milk Production By County, Wisconsin, 2014

Toxic Algae Blooms On The Rise

And now, the unsurprising results from this search: wherever HABs are most impactful on a large scale (see: Toledo; see: The Green Bay of Lake MI), the largest presence of dairy cows and

UW-Milwaukee Students Sample Green Bay Waters
UW-Milwaukee Students Sample Green Bay Waters

milk production are either already dominant within the state (WI) — or are trending heavily in that direction (OH).

If best-practice standards for farmers remain marginally regulated, and farm operation regulations pale in comparison to what is required from municipalities, HABs will become an increasingly regular event with corresponding intensity.

In other words … this crappy situation is only going to get worse.


Kewaunee County, WI – A Crappy Situation.

In the discussion of Harmful Algae Blooms (HAB), there is perhaps no better location to reference than Kewaunee County, WI. As has been discussed in a previous CWW article, dairy farming is big business for this county with a population of about 21,000 people.

Really big business.

So much so that dairy cows outnumber the human population almost 4 to 1. That’s right. Nearly 80,000 dairy cattle, in one small WI county … with a vast Lake Michigan shoreline.

Now, if you are thinking that’s alot of cows, you are correct. And it has created a poopy situation which, despite the play on words, is actually incredibly serious.

As of 2016, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, fully one-third of all Kewaunee County wells are contaminated.


In this terrific 2015 study conducted by The Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, mounds of empirical evidence supports the need for a better way of managing dairy cow manure. The well contamination is noted — in fact, this study proposed that it is one-half of the wells in the county that are contaminated — as well as the geological makeup of Kewaunee County; the rampant growth of dairy operations, and more.

All of it is useful information. But, for me, the most glaring number is this:

One cow generates at least 18 times the amount of waste as one human. Every day. 24/365.

Animal Manure On The Farm
Animal Manure On The Farm

And, while municipalities go to great lengths to control street runoff, waste from homes, etc., dairy farms have far less regulation and must meet far lower waste-management standards.

Imagine what the sanitation treatment landscape would look like if Kewaunee County held 360,000 people — making it the fourth most populated of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, instead of its current ranking of #52.

Do you see where this is going?

In the race to provide dairy products to a planet full of people, we are clearly trading freshwater for milk. Since it has been estimated that it takes some 40 gallons of fresh water to produce an 8 ounce glass of milk, that is an alarmingly one-sided deal.

One might even call it a waste.


Conservation Easements – a solid option in PA & elsewhere.

In this wonderful white paper by Debra Wolf Goldstein, Esq., General Counsel Heritage Conservancy, the many benefits of conservation easements established between municipalities and landowners are presented. In Pennsylvania (PA), as cited in the paper, chief among them is the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards preserving valuable land holds for residents.

Milwaukee River Algae Bloom
Milwaukee River Algae Bloom

The benefit to the public of privately-owned, protected property is indisputable. In the most recent statewide Recreation Participation Survey, Pennsylvanians listed their top recreation activity as sightseeing/driving for pleasure. Easements can provide this visual relief. Easements also can protect wildlife corridors, maintain a sense of community, combat sprawl, assist in farmland preservation, and maintain high quality water sources.

Milwaukee, WI, notes similar priorities according to
this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“People are paying a premium to live and work near the water, and this is hugely important as we work to make these rivers better,” said Matt Howard, director of the city’s Office of Environmental Sustainability. “I think there is a more explicit connection between environmental quality and economic vitality.”

To restate the obvious, clean freshwater is incredibly valuable for tourists and landowners alike. With such financial incentive at risk, the decision to clean up always makes sense.