Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


December 12, 2018
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair
County Board

Proposal would require permitting of farm waste, storage facilities


Looking to keep contaminated runoff from reaching area lakes and streams, the Dane County Lakes & Watershed Commission on Thursday will consider a new ordinance regulating animal waste from farming operations.


The proposed rules would bring Dane County farms into compliance with both state and federal standards while also incorporating recommendations from the Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task force.


The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Lyman F Anderson Ag & Conservation Center 5201 Fen Oak Dr.


The goal is to reduce weed growth and algae blooms in the Yahara Chain of Lakes made worse by phosphorus-laden rain and snow melt washing off farm fields and feed lots, says County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton).


“There is no silver bullet solution to improving our lakes but updating manure handling standards is a good place to start,” says Corrigan. “These recommendations from the Healthy Farms Healthy Lakes Task Force will help protect the environment while also recognizing the importance of agriculture to our local economy.”


The new ordinance is designed to generate less confusion for both farm owners and administrators. It would also allow local implementation of state standards, allowing county staff to work with agricultural producers to promote these manure waste handling principles.


“This ordinance simply allows local enforcement of existing  state standards,” says Supervisor Mary Kolar (District 1, Madison isthmus) who chaired the Task Force. “It requires that farmers in Dane County do the same thing their neighbors in other counties are already doing,”


The Task Force – which included farmers, lakes advocates, elected officials and administrators – held a series of meetings over the past year working to draft workable solutions to Dane County’s nagging water quality problems.


In addition to updating Dane County ordinances, new proposed rules would expand permit requirement for winter manure spreading of both solid and liquid waste during frozen, snow-covered conditions. The current ordinance only applies to stored, liquid manure.


The new ordinance would also require permits for manure storage systems used for barnyards and milk house wastewater processing.  It would create a certificate of use requirement for all manure storage in the county to ensure nutrient management plans are being implemented and facilities operated to current standards.


Most manure storage facilities in the county were constructed prior to the county having a review process to verify site conditions, construction standards and safety devices.


If owners of storage facilities do not have management plans in place, county staff will have the ability to provide assistance, education and cost-sharing to implement them.


“This Board has recognized the importance of protecting our ground and surface water resources and is committed to ensuring proper management of agricultural practices,” says Corrigan. “Clean water contributes to public health; plant, animal and aquatic life; and the property tax base of Dane County.”