County plan to address pollution
Marathon County Conservation, Planning and Zoning staff member Jeff Pritchard told the Environmental Resources Committee on Thursday that a EPA-required study of the Big Eau Pleine watershed documents “off the chart” phosphorus levels that will need to be remedied in an upcoming county 10-year land and water plan.
Pritchard said the EPAapproved Total Maximum Daily Load study of the watershed showed streams with as much as 252 micrograms of phosphorus per liter. The legal standard, he said, is 20.
“It looks like we are in Ireland,’ he said. “We have green lakes.”
Pritchard told the committee that 255 miles of Big Eau Pleine watershed were officially “impaired” and that the situation was not getting any better.
“As of this year, add nine more miles,” he said.
Paul Daigle, county land and water program director, said the Big Eau Pleine pollution problem was going to be tough to remedy.
“What we’ll need to see is 63 to 84 percent reduction of phosphorus,” he said. “That’s a huge cultural and management and economic lift.”
Committee member Kelly King asked whether the Big Eau Pleine was as polluted as other Wisconsin water bodies.
“The Shawano River is 10 times as green as the Eau Pleine,” he said.
Pritchard responded that phosphorus pollution of surface water was a national problem.
King said farmers who cause manure spills should be vigorously punished by the DNR and the county. Farms should know there will be certain enforcement if they cause a spill, he said.
Committee chairman Jacob Langenhahn said such a punitive message was not needed.
“We don’t want them [farmers] to act out of fear, but for the good of the environment,” he said. In other business:
_ Director Daigle told committee members a recent Record-Review article pointing out the shortcomings of the Fenwood Subwatershed Project failed to “tell the rest of the story.” He said the program did not achieve a 45 percent reduction in phosphorus pollution, but still has seven years to do so. He said the project did not have enough money for staff and could not change farmer behavior in its first year because crops had already been planted.