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Waterway Near Proposed CAFO Has High Phosphorus Levels

DNR Plans To Add Creek To Impaired Waters List


Researchers in Ashland are seeing higher amounts of phosphorus in waters near Lake Superior. They say levels exceed state water quality standards in a creek that’s downstream from where a large hog farm may be built.

Randy Lehr with the Center for Freshwater Innovation at Northland College said they’ve been sampling water quality at three sites in South Fish Creek, near the site where Iowa-based Reicks View Farms plans to build 26,000-hog operation in Bayfield County.

“The data we’ve collected so far suggests that runoff from agricultural lands is likely a significant contributor to the elevated phosphorus concentrations,” he said.

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According to Lehr, satellite images show around 37 percent of land in the South Fish Creek watershed is used for agriculture.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Nancy Larson said the state reviewed the data from Northland is adding the creek to its draft list of impaired waters. But, she said Reicks View wouldn’t be affected by that unless a phosphorus reduction plan is created for the watershed.

“Then the nutrient management plan may need to take that into account in the intensity of the spreading or the areas where they’re spreading manure,” said Larson.

Reicks View Farms crop manager John Thomas said they want to avoid any phosphorus runoff.

“That’s why we’re looking at, with the manure part of it, injecting it all,” he said.

The farm plans to inject up to 10 million gallons of manure into the soil each year.

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