DNR approves Marathon City phosphorus proposal
The Water Quality Bureau of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a proposal from Marathon City to pay MilTrim Farm $52 a pound for phosphorus credits, according to administrator Andy Kurtz.
In the plan, the village will pay the large, town of Johnson dairy farm an estimated $16,640 a year for credits that will permit the village to discharge 800 pounds of phosphorus, not 480 pounds, annually into the Big Rib River.
The DNR says Marathon City can buy phosphorus credits from MilTrim Farm for up to five years, the length of a new wastewater treatment plant permit that Kurtz expects will be issued by the DNR in either June or July.
MilTrim Farm will generate phosphorus credits for Marathon City to buy through limited till cropping and use of cover crops that protect against soil erosion and loss of phosphorus.
Kurtz said paying MilTrim for conservation farming is a good business move for the village.
“The amount we will be paying is much less than the interest on the loan we would need to pay to come up with a physical solution to reduce phosphorus at our wastewater plant,” he said. “This is a better use of our financial capital.”
Kurtz said DNR phosphorus effluent limits on the village wastewater plan will get increasingly more strict. Currently, the village has to meet an 0.8 parts per million phosphorus cap. In time, he said, that will drop to 0.36 parts per million.
Kurtz said the village should continue buying phosphorus credits from farmers.
“It’s still the better economical choice,” he said.
Kurtz said the village will buy the credits through its own watershed plan, not through a county conservation department.
“We are doing our own thing,” he said.