Owners of a 4,000-cow dairy farm in northeast Wisconsin say the operation isn't polluting drinking wells amid allegations from environmental groups.
Press-Gazette Media reports owners of Kinnard Farms said in a statement Wednesday that they're surprised by the allegations. They said the Kewaunee County farm follows strict regulations and strives to protect water.
"We are reviewing the documents and will respond accordingly," the owners said.
Three environmental groups say the pollution is due to or being contributed to by the farm's spreading of millions of gallons of liquid manure on fields. According to research compiled by the groups, as many as half of private wells in the town of Lincoln are contaminated.
The groups want the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and take action against the farm in the town of Lincoln and keep it from expanding. A state permit would let the farm grow to more than 6,000 cows by late 2017.
The farm's 2013 annual report says each year its cows produce nearly 35 million gallons of manure, which is spread on 5,000 acres of farmland nearby. The expansion permit's fact sheet says the amount of manure produced would roughly double.
"In light of the problems we're having there with safe drinking water, to add millions more gallons of animal waste in light of the current problems just doesn't seem justified," said Dean Hoegger, president of the Clean Water Action Council, one of the groups asking the EPA to take action.
Seven of 10 wells in Kewaunee County were found to have bacterial contaminations in a 2014 pilot project, and cow manure had contaminated three wells. The project was completed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Geological Survey.
Porous bedrock in northeast Wisconsin makes the area susceptible to groundwater contamination.