Kewaunee, WI struggles to find economic/agricultural balance.

Located at one of the gateways to beautiful Door County, WI; sitting quaintly along Lake Michigan; Kewaunee, WI is a not-t00-remote village that is a popular summer destination for boaters and anglers alike. Kewaunee County is also a fertile area for farming. But the economic core of this community of 3,000 had long been the nuclear power plant located just miles outside of town. Local jobs, a steady influx of expense-account supported out-of-town workers to maintain and consult at the facility, and paid property taxes were among the benefits Kewaunee residents enjoyed.

Until 2013, when the plant closed.

“We’re still reeling from the loss of the plant,” says one Kewaunee business owner. “It’s definitely taking a while, and the town is hurting … but we’re getting there.”

Now the village, and indeed the entire county, is struggling to regain economic footing. More than ever, agriculture — not summer recreation — looks to be the driver. And there’s the rub.

In a booming local farm economy, successful waste management is critical. Ground water (see: drinking water), and surface water (see: recreation) contamination is an ever-present concern.

Kewaunee, WI Harbor
Kewaunee, WI Harbor

Such is the issue for Kewaunee, and other communities much like it. This article from, sheds light on the subject and, although nearly two years old, it is as relevant today as it was then.

Bottom line: what promotes a healthy farming economy can sometimes collide with what promotes a healthy community.

Still, for Kewaunee, agriculture is a key to the area’s renewal. Livelihoods increasingly depend on it. Responsibility for bringing the local economy back to stable rests with everyone.

The science and best-practices are there to foster a happy existence between big agriculture and small communities. It is all possible without the uncomfortable restraints of additional government regulation.

Cooperation by aligning agribusiness and community wellness interests to keep water clean is the key.

ReFreshMKE leads way in clean water, urban shore renewal

Armed with the support of the community, ReFreshMKE is leading the way in making Milwaukee a world-class fresh water coastal city. The target? Milwaukee’s inner harbor, a once robust manufacturing zone that today is riddled with empty, aging buildings as well as some viable businesses.

Milwaukee Harbor
Milwaukee Harbor

By reintroducing wetlands, better overall land management, and other ecology-friendly solutions, a ten-year strategic plan will transform this area into an asset that will significantly boost neighboring communities and current inner harbor businesses.

Lake Erie: Summer 2015 & Here We Go Again

According to a July 29, 2015 AP from release from The Blade newspaper out of Toledo, OH, toxic algae blooms are reappearing as expected in Lake Erie, and the usual suspects are believed to be the cause: climate change, combined sewage overflows, malfunctioning septic systems, and agricultural runoff.


So which of these sources is likely to be the greatest contributor to the problem?


Satellite View of Lake Erie Algae Bloom
Satellite View of Lake Erie Algae Bloom

Research suggests that agricultural runoff — when manure spread on fields or in barns flows into lakes, rivers and streams after rains or thaws — is by far the largest source. Over 60%, according to this recent article from Scientific American.



Something can be done — such as assisting farmers in implementing better land management practices — to curb this harmful, toxic runoff. And it must. Preferably sooner than later.

Walton Foundation & IA Farmers Find Freshwater Sweet Spot

There is no question that farm runoff, and the nitrogen and phosphorus that go with it into rivers and streams, is a primary contributor to the toxic algae that is destroying precious surface water resources.

Measuring For Optimal Easement Size - Cedar Rapids, IA
Measuring For Optimal Easement Size – Cedar Rapids, IA


The fixes to this problem are known, but implementation is slow and often viewed as expensive. The latter position a highly debatable one.


Not so as is being shown in Iowa, where contributions from The Walton Family Foundation — in cooperation with the Iowa Soybean Association — are being used with the goal of reducing runoff by 45% over the next 20 years.


Our opinion is that, once the clean-up strategies are put into place, runoff will be reduced at an even swifter pace — all while profits for farmers increase. Truly a win-win scenario for all involved.