Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2013 New methods of spreading manure on farm fields are becoming the latest flashpoint of conflict among farmers, their neighbors and environmentalists.
Supporters say that spraying waste from barns and feedlots with high-capacity hoses and irrigation-style sprayers has many advantages, including cost savings and potential environmental benefits.
But opponents worry about the effect that airborne pathogens pose for farm workers and nearby residents when a mix of brownish water and manure is sprayed in an aerosol over a field.
SARATOGA, Wis. (AP) — A judge has ruled in favor of a company that plans to build a large dairy operation in southern Wood County. Judge Thomas Eagon Thursday ordered the town of Saratoga’s building inspector to issue permits for seven structures for the Golden Sands Dairy.
The Wysocki family filed a lawsuit asking the judge to issue the permits. The family says it applied for the permits before the town placed a moratorium on new construction.
Contact: Kathy Byrne, Co-coordinator Crawford Stewardship Project firstname.lastname@example.org 608-734-3143
April 10, 2013
Crawford Stewardship Project receives Citizen-Based Monitoring Award
Crawford Stewardship Project (CSP) received the Citizen-based Monitoring Award for Group Effort at the Citizen-based Monitoring Conference in Wisconsin Rapids on April 5, 2013. The Group Effort award is presented in recognition of a group of monitors working within a monitoring network, watershed organization, citizens group or other collaboration. CSP received an engraved plaque from the UW-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
“We were so pleased to receive this award in recognition of our work in helping to protect the surface and groundwater of Crawford County”, states Kathy Byrne, Co-Coordinator of Crawford Stewardship Project who supervises CSP’s citizen volunteer monitoring efforts. She adds, “Our volunteers are out at various sites monthly from April to October collecting data that is submitted to the Water Action Volunteers (WAV) database. They also collect water samples that are tested at a DNR certified lab for bacteria and chemicals which is paid for by CSP. We appreciate the dedication of our monitors, some of whom have been doing this for a number of years. They are the ones who received this award and it is only because of them that we are able to do this work.”
In 2002, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources implemented the annual Wisconsin Volunteer Stream Monitoring Awards Program to recognize exemplary work in volunteer stream monitoring in Wisconsin. Canine
The CSP water monitoring effort began in 2007 when a hog CAFO expanded near Wauzeka. Concerns about possible pollution of surface and groundwater spurred the organization to begin their monitoring program. “Since that time one of our sites near the CAFO has had problems with elevated levels of bacteria including e-coli as well as phosphorus”, Kathy said. “We continue to monitor and have been in contact with the DNR regarding this”.
CSP’s monitoring efforts recently expanded to a creek near the frac sand mine south of Boscobel in Grant County and also plans to monitor near the Bridgeport frac sand mine that was just recently permitted by the Town. “With so many threats to our water from industry it is more important than ever to protect this precious and finite resource”, said Kathy. “With the hope of additional volunteers in the future we would like to expand our efforts even further to other threatened streams in the area”, she added.
If you are interested in volunteering as a water monitor for CSP please contact Kathy Byrne at email@example.com or call 608-734-3143. All CSP volunteers are trained through Valley Stewardship Network. Two training dates are currently scheduled for May 2 and May 11. For more information on the water monitoring training please contact Valley Stewardship Network at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-637-3615.
Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network and other like-minded grassroots groups around the state have submitted the attached letter to Richard Stadelman, executive director of the Wisconsin Towns Association (WTA). The letter expresses our concern that the DNR and DATCP have contacted the WTA requesting that it discourage members from adopting local ordinances restricting spray irrigation systems for manure dispersal. We believe this is in response to recent actions taken by local governments to adopt ordinances banning or restricting all forms of aerial spraying to protect human health from the release of dangerous toxins into the air and water - which has been confirmed in a number of studies.
With the growing number of factory farms in Wisconsin, more citizens from around the state are urging response from their local town boards. Because of its role in supporting local control for Wisconsin communities, we have requested that the WTA draft a Sample Ordinance on Moratorium Authority for Towns on the use of any form of airborne transportation of manure through spraying systems.
View letter sent April 5, 2013 - Stadelman - Ordinance Moratorium final 04-05-13
March 26, 2013 TO: Secretary Kitty Rhoades, Department of Health Services Secretary Ben Brancel, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary Cathy Stepp, Department of Natural Resources Senator Frank Lasee Representative Garey Bies Kevin Moore, Department of Health Services Bart Sponseller, Department of Natural Resources Andrew Craig, Department of Natural Resources Tom Bauman, Department of Natural Resources Robert Thiboldeaux, PhD, Toxicologist, Division of Public Health Mark Cain, Department of Natural Resources Ken Johnson, Department of Natural Resources
Re: Manure Spray Irrigation
The American Lung Association in Wisconsin has been contacted by a group of concerned citizens in Kewaunee County for assistance in an air quality issue that is of great concern to both the residents of those communities and to our organization. The issue is the proposed plan to spray liquid manure fertilizer. These residents are understandably upset at the prospect of being subjected to breathing liquid manure! I also have been informed that there have been several workgroup meetings to which residents of the communities affected were not invited to participate.
According to a report published by the National Association of Local Boards of Health animal manure contains 160 pathogens that are capable of causing disease or infection in animals or humans, affecting the respiratory and digestive systems, muscles and skin with chills and fever, itching and rashes, fatigue and weakness, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration, headache, abdominal pain and cramping and other debilitating symptoms and illnesses. These pathogens can be transmitted through the air and/or water, potentially leading to widespread outbreaks. Manure lagoons also contain antibiotics, hormones, barn cleaners and municipal and industrial wastes, all of which are potentially transferred to humans and animals a great distance from the spraying area.
In Kewanee County alone, there are currently 16 Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) which are already spreading liquid manure directly to the land. To consider adding spraying of additional liquid manure increases the risk those residents already face.
The American Lung Association understands and respects the long tradition of agriculture and the important role it plays in our economy. Many of our own state authorities, however, have publicly recognized the potential negative health impacts of the center pivot sprinkler technology and have published recommendations to limit exposure. Whether these recommendations are adequate to protect these residents is still open for debate, especially in light of the very large potential applications being considered. Because of these facts, we are requesting that you reopen the work group with the inclusion of residents from the affected communities. We also respectfully request that you hold a public hearing in advance of issuing any permits, so that residents can be fully heard.
I know the residents are eager to work with state officials to find a solution that both helps our farms prosper while also protecting the people who live nearby. I hope to learn more about the permitting process and how we can assist you in finding a satisfactory resolution to this issue.
Director of Public Policy and Communications
By DAVID A. KESSLERPublished: March 27, 2013, New York Times
SCIENTISTS at the Food and Drug Administration systematically monitor the meat and poultry sold in supermarkets around the country for the presence of disease-causing bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. These food products are bellwethers that tell us how bad the crisis of antibiotic resistance is getting. And they’re telling us it’s getting worse.
But this is only part of the story. While the F.D.A. can see what kinds of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are coming out of livestock facilities, the agency doesn’t know enough about the antibiotics that are being fed to these animals. This is a major public health problem, because giving healthy livestock these drugs breeds superbugs that can infect people. We need to know more about the use of antibiotics in the production of our meat and poultry. The results could be a matter of life and death.
An exciting day of networking, activities, and information regarding the current threats to our water resources. Please join us as we learn how to come together to create a better future for Wisconsin!
Silent Auction - Raffles – Speakers – Knowledge Fair
Enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin with this event filled day including nature hikes, canoeing and sharing with multiple non-profit organizations to learn what they are doing to preserve our water resources.
Saturday May 18th 10:00 – 3:00
Lake Lucerne Camp and Retreat Center near Wautoma, WI.
Advance tickets are discounted to $10.00 / Box lunch available for an additional $13.50
Elward Engle - WI DNR Real Estate Specialist (retired) and tireless land champion.
Jamie Saul - Legal Chair for the Sierra Club’s John Muir Chapter and founding board member of the Midwest Environmental Defense Center.
George Kraft - Professor of Water Resources, Director of the Center for Watershed Science and Education, and Director of the Central Wisconsin Groundwater Center at the University of Wisconsin.
Kim Ferraro - A public interest and environmental lawyer for the Hoosier Environmental Council (Indiana).
John Ikerd - Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics at the University of Missouri
Lynn Henning - Sierra Club of MI, Goldman Environmental Prize recipient for her work against CAFOs.
Brought to you by Friends of the Central Sands http://www.friendsofcs.org/
Anyone who has struggled to protect a community from the damage caused by an industrial livestock operation can attest that the task is exceptionally difficult, requiring courage, fortitude, and substantial investment of time, money, energy and effort. It’s an uphill battle, a lopsided fight in which all odds are stacked in favor of industrial livestock proponents who enjoy the tremendous financial backing of agribusiness, political support from legislators bought by industry campaign contributions, lax oversight from industry-friendly regulatory agencies and in some cases, public support from individuals swayed by false promises of economic development. As a result, the sad but unsurprising reality is that those who fight to protect their families and communities from the devastating public health, environmental and socioeconomic impacts of industrial livestock operations often lose. But sometimes they win. And every so often, they win a great, monumental victory, proving that despite the wealth and power of its proponents, the industrial food system is not above the law – and not beyond reform. Read more
It takes cows to be the nation’s No. 1 producer of cheese, and the No. 2 producer of milk. Lots of them. While the number of producing dairy cows in the state has stayed relatively flat — around 1.25 million — the average size of herds is getting larger as some farms are expanding to position their operations to stay competitive in the state’s $26 billion dairy industry.
Others, however, have raised concerns about the toll larger operations can have on the country side and local economies. The trend, and the concerns, have been a long-running point of discussion both in the state and the wider agricultural industry.
Save the Date! People from all over Wisconsin will gather on May 18 to hear about the issues affecting our water resources. Learn how citizens just like you are making a difference. This will be a great opportunity to meet others from around the state to connect and to learn from one another. More information to follow.
By Peggy Coffeen, Agri-ViewThursday, February 21, 2013 11:53 AM CST
This is no joke. During last week's annual meeting for WPDES CAFO owners, managers, permit and nutrient management plan writers meeting in Green Bay, Cheryl Burdett from the U.S. EPA Water Division made it clear that the agency is making its presence known in Wisconsin by checking up on large and medium-size concentrated animal feeding operations.
"We are going to knock on your door and you aren't going to know we are coming," Burdett stated, noting that these unannounced inspections are intended to provide a snapshot of farms when they are facing the greatest potential for contaminating water.
"We like to go out during wet weather. A lot of farmers say we came out during the worst conditions. It is planned," she continued. "We want to see your facility under the worst conditions."
CAFOs may be regulated under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program. The NPDES program regulates the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waterways, and CAFOs are point sources, as defined by the Clean Water Act. While the threshold for large CAFOs is 700 dairy cows, farms within the range of 200 to 699 dairy cows are considered medium CAFOs. By regulatory definition, a medium CAFO also has a manmade ditch or pipe that carries manure or wastewater to surface water or the animals come into contact with surface water that passes through the area where they are confined. If an operation is found to be a significant contributor of pollutants, the permitting authority may designate a medium-sized facility as a CAFO.
"If you have a permit, we would enforce that permit. If you don't have a permit, and you meet these numbers, then you would be a CAFO and we would look at the Clean Water Act," Burdett explained.
Though EPA has delegated many of its responsibilities to be carried out by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in Wisconsin, part of their "oversight responsibility" is to check up on how the DNR is doing, which is why Burdett says her agency has been spending some time here.
"EPA retains the enforcement authority in all of our states, so we have commitments we need to make at a federal level of so many inspections per year, and we have been in all of our states except for Wisconsin," Burdett said, noting that Region 5, which she serves, also includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. "We have not been in Wisconsin yet, so it's part of our job to make sure we are just doing a check-up in all of our states."
She noted particular areas of interest in the state, including the Sheboygan/Manitowoc watershed, Kewaunee and Brown Counties, the Lower Fox and Winnebago watersheds.
Burdett also explained that EPA makes decisions on which farms will be inspected based on a few key factors, starting with observations from aerial photos. From these photos, they are looking at the size of the facility, proximity to waterways and potential to discharge. If the facility does not meet the size requirements, an inspection may still be conducted, but the enforcement may be different. Inspections may also be the result of citizen complaints that have in some way been validated based off of compliance history, previous inspection information or location near waterways.
Inspections are thorough, including both a records review and a walk-through, and may take as long as five hours. The records review examines the nutrient management plan, as well as land application history. During the walk-through, Burdett looks for points where water may run through a portion of the production facility without containment. If a discharge or process waste water is observed leaving the facility and going to a ditch or waterway, EPA takes a sample for lab testing. For example, if manure is scraped to the end of a barn and there is no structure to prevent it from washing into a ditch, that would be considered a potential point for discharge.
Areas used to store feed are another common point of potential discharge. "Feed is a big one. This seems to be an issue in every state that we go to," Burdett noted. "Bagged silage, silage bunkers… I know it's a lot of water, however, if it comes in contact with your feed, it has to be contained in a storage structure. It can't go through a filter device and go to a creek. It needs to be contained."
Looking out into 2013, Burdett admitted that there is no set plan for the number of farms that EPA plans to inspect. However, future inspections will be a reflection of what is found. "It just depends what we keep finding," she added. "We will do more inspections if they keep finding stuff."
Feb. 19, 2013 GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) - Today 400 dairy leaders from around the state gathered in our area for an annual meeting.
Those farmers were met with protestors in Green Bay.
"In Kewaunee County 30% of the wells tested have tested positive for e. coli and nitrates making it unsafe to drink" says Lynn Utesch a member of Kewaunee CARES.
The citizen group voiced concerns about large farms called "concentrated animal feeding operations" or CAFOs.
They are defined by the state as having 715 or more milking cows.
"The bigger you get the more problems you have. It just produces way too much manure for the land we have in Northeast Wisconsin" says Utesch.
By Tony Schultz and Kat Becker | Posted: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 2:59 pm As immigration reform moves forward nationally, the voices from rural communities appear to be dominated by conservative farm organizations rather than based on a community's needs and values. It is also based around premises that will continue to perpetuate the farm crisis — benefiting a few over the many in rural areas.
The current monologue tied to rural areas is one created to serve large agricultural employers and agribusiness. As a headline in the Vegetable Growers News puts forth the policy "farmers want" is simply "more workers."
The Farm Bureau is part of a coalition of agribusiness groups that is saying "laws should be amended so that farms could legally employ foreign workers year-round in addition to seasonal jobs." Both voices frame immigrants as a needed input into the agricultural system — not as people who care for their families or those who go to our churches.
This rural viewpoint is also not based on policies for small and midsized farmers, small rural businesses or community vitality. It seems odd to us that in a sluggish economy with a 7.9 percent formal unemployment rate that there should be a perilous lack of workers. Don't conservative economists tell us that markets will respond and wages will rise to attract workers to this sector? In reference to a supposed farm labor shortage, factory farmers and racist conservative politicians say "no white people will do these jobs."
We absolutely disagree with that absurd stereotype that there is something about agricultural work that makes it not good enough for the rest of us.
First, on our farm we do monotonous physically difficult work regularly. We shovel manure, toss hay bales and spend 40 percent of summer days on our hands and knees pulling weeds and harvesting vegetables, and we love doing it. But it is not just the labor that matters here but rather our own relationship to our work. We love it because we get to make decisions about what we do and when we do it. We get to determine a price that provides for our family and allows us to make investments into our farm. We get to spend time with our young children. It is empowering work that we have a lot of control over.
Small farms like our own have no labor shortage and are approached by many people wanting to work for us as a step toward their own farm ownership, as a training place where they can be treated as valuable partners in work.
Our county's own grazing apprenticeship program, designed to help beginning farmers get trained and onto their own farms, has been so popular that they have a waiting list of more than 50 individuals waiting to be placed on small and midsized farms and paid $10 an hour for two years.
It seems like lots of people want to do farm work but they also want to someday own their own farm — within the immigration policies set forth by agribusiness, farm workers should be low-wage farm workers forever. What the conservative agribusiness lobby means when they say no one wants these jobs is really "no native worker wants jobs where they are paid poorly for hours of repetitive work with no chance for promotion or a path to entrepreneurship." They want a pool of desperate workers, with no legal access to state support, who don't speak the language and can be isolated by the larger culture.
Imagine the host of larger conversations we would need to have about the direction of our agricultural system if the basic assumption that large farms are efficient was looked at in a real light — large farms in most fruit and vegetable crops and livestock production are economically dependent on exploiting people — that means not economically profitable.
If living wages were paid and there were no racial hierarchy in this industry, factory farms wouldn't exist. So what is our take on immigration reform? In rural communities we are very vocal about our values. And a reasonable immigration policy seems like one based around these. We value hard work, independence, small businesses, family, community support, and the overarching idea that we should love thy neighbor as ourselves. We need policy that is based on real possibility — not exploitation — and allows immigrants old and new to build their own businesses as we have been able to do historically.
We also need to understand the ways in which racism has been used to keep all of us down, to pit rural people ravaged by international trade policies and agribusiness farm policies against people of color and immigrants who have been ravaged by the same policies. Working and middle-class family farmers, entrepreneurs and all citizens must not be fooled into blaming people with even less social, political and economic power than themselves; people who have almost nothing and are doing whatever work they can to make a better life for their family. We must ask who is responsible for creating these conditions. Who receives the power and capital and benefit from this?
That is where the problem lies.
We need to be clear about what actually benefits us. Broad democratic ownership rather than concentration has been shown in many economic studies to best serve rural communities, so why do we keep shooting ourselves in the foot and siding with the few at the expense of many?
We are for immigration reform featuring amnesty and a clear path to citizenship for people who are giving their lives to make this country work because it is the fair, decent and just thing to do, not so some factory farmer can keep the sweatshop going.
We need a better immigration policy because of the opportunity it provides for America's economy and culture, not to fill the needs of a caste system of factory farms. A real path to American citizenship is one that includes a living wage for work and the opportunity to own a business. If America is going to be great, America must be shared.
Tony Schultz and Kat Becker own Stoney Acres Farm in Athens.
The Gardner Town Board Wednesday decided to move forward with a mega-farm ordinance aimed at heading off development of large animal operations. While no plans have been announced, town officials want to take a proactive approach, ordering the town Plan Commission to work with Door County’s Soil Conservation Department to write regulations ahead of any potential development of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO).
Gardner Town Chairman Jon Koch said he attended a meeting of Little Sturgeon property owners who expressed concern about odor, spreading manure on local fields and the impact such an operation would have on the water in Green Bay.
Town officials expect to model the local ordinance on a similar law adopted by the town of Casco in Kewaunee County in 2007.
Weekly News article published: January 3, 2013 by the Central Office Info can help determine 2014 list of impaired lakes and rivers
MADISON – Citizens around Wisconsin are invited to submit information they've collected about streams, rivers and lakes to feed into the state's biennial process for determining which waters do not meet water quality standards.
The Department of Natural Resources will use information received by the close of business March 1, 2013, to help assess the condition of Wisconsin’s water bodies and develop the state’s list of impaired waters and biennial water quality report, which the agency must submit to Congress under federal Clean Water Act rules.
"DNR is committed to working together with our nonprofit partners, local governments, community-based water management organizations and citizens across the state to help meet our water quality data needs,” says Aaron Larson, DNR’s Impaired Waters List coordinator.
Every two years, people have the opportunity to submit their data for use in developing assessment reports that can help steer scarce state resources to clean up lakes and rivers. The department considers that information along with internal monitoring data and other assessments.
“Water quality data from our partners are used to compare against standards, which is often the first step in the management of our water resources. Assessing these data helps us determine the health of a lake or stream, and which management actions may be necessary to improve water quality," says Larson.
The agency is interested in receiving all types of water quality data and information for lakes and rivers – called surface waters – particularly data collected between January 1, 2003, and December 31, 2012. Data must be submitted in a specific format to allow for efficient analysis, and meet the quality assurance and regulatory decision-making needs associated with these programs.
More information about data quality requirements and how to submit data can be found on the DNR’s water quality assessment page.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Aaron Larson (608) 264-6129; Bob Masnado (608) 267-7662
Monday, December 10, 2012
A.J. Bos Sells Ravaged Megadairy Site Near Nora, Illinois
Remaining Land Sold at a Loss to Local Grain Farmer
Warren, Illinois – On December 7, 2012, lawyers for the partially constructed megadairy near Nora, Illinois, filed documents at the Jo Daviess County Courthouse to record the sale of the facility site, land A.J. Bos left in un-farmable condition. This filing marks the disposal of the last two parcels of land originally purchased as the site for two 5,500-head animal factories.
Sold this week, this once pristine farmland now bears the scars of Bos’s failed attempt to build one of the two factories—a four-acre cracked silage pad, foundations for six of the eight 1,000-foot-long barns, fractured walkways that failed long before thousands of cows trod upon their surfaces, a partially built milking parlor, and several half-dug manure ponds deeply gutted from erosion.
To view these features of the devastated site, search Google Maps™ for 12504 E Canyon Rd, Nora, Illinois, and scroll up (north). These recent satellite images also show crop lines in alfalfa fields caused by fractured bedrock and shallow topsoil. These fields are due west of the megadairy and east of IL Rt. 78. This fractured bedrock (karst), prevalent throughout northwest Illinois, would have allowed some of the 100-million gallons of manure produced annually at the site to seep into and contaminate the aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for local residents.
“This is a true David and Goliath story. Never before in my work with communities trying to protect themselves from the devastating impacts of large industrial animal factories have I seen a group of people successfully stop construction after groundbreaking. HOMES’s commitment to stand up for their rights against all odds, and against one of the most powerful corporate agri-business industries in the country will inspire others standing in their shoes,” says Danielle Diamond, Attorney for the Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water and Executive Director of the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project.
Bos originally purchased 1,401 acres of prime farmland in spring of 2008 for approximately $6,500 per acre. Over the past year, he has sold all of the tillable land until only the 326 acres where the megadairy was being built remained. Just last month, Bos settled a lawsuit with the Illinois Attorney General, who was requesting that he pay a $250,000 fine. According to the terms of the settlement, Bos promised to abandon the site, allowing him to sell the property and leave the state.
The sale of this land at $4,900 per acre is approximately a half million dollars less than what Bos paid for it, adding to the millions of dollars he has already lost on this poorly sited and poorly planned project. The low price reflects the damage inflicted on the land by the construction and foreshadows the investment the land’s new owners will need to make to restore these parcels to productive farmland.
Very recently, Bos purchased an industrial animal factory called Valley View Dairy in Bruce, South Dakota. According to published reports, Bos plans to expand the facility from 2,100 to 3,500 head, an expansion that has Bruce-area residents very concerned about the safety of their community. Bos may also be part owner of another industrial animal facility in Wisconsin.
For more information about HOMES and to help support our cause, visit:
November 16, 2012 New USGS Report Describes Processes and Misconceptions Concerning the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow
Groundwater provides drinking water for millions of Americans and is the primary source of water to irrigate cropland in many of the nations most productive agricultural settings. Although the benefits of groundwater development are many, groundwater pumping can reduce the flow of water in connected streams and rivers—a process called streamflow depletion by wells. The USGS has released a new report that summarizes the body of knowledge on streamflow depletion, highlights common misconceptions, and presents new concepts to help water managers and others understand the effects of groundwater pumping on surface water.
"Groundwater discharge is a critical part of flow in most streams--and the more we pump below the ground, the more we deplete water flowing down the stream," said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. "When viewed over the long term, it is one big zero-sum game."
Groundwater and surface-water systems are connected, and groundwater discharge is often a substantial component of the total flow of a stream. In many areas of the country, pumping wells capture groundwater that would otherwise discharge to connected streams, rivers, and other surface-water bodies. Groundwater pumping can also draw streamflow into connected aquifers where pumping rates are relatively large or where the locations of pumping are relatively close to a stream.
"Streamflow depletion caused by pumping is an important water-resource management issue across the nation because of the adverse effects that reduced flows can have on aquatic ecosystems, the availability of surface water, and the quality and aesthetic value of streams and rivers," said Paul Barlow, USGS hydrologist and author on the report. "Managing the effects of streamflow depletion by wells is challenging, particularly because of the significant time delays that often occur between when pumping begins and when the effects of that pumping are realized in nearby streams. This report will help managers understand the many factors that control the timing, rates, and locations of streamflow depletion caused by pumping."
Major conclusions from the report:
- Individual wells may have little effect on streamflow depletion, but small effects of many wells pumping within a basin can combine to produce substantial effects on streamflow and aquatic habitats.
- Basinwide groundwater development typically occurs over a period of several decades, and the resulting cumulative effects on streamflow depletion may not be fully realized for years.
- Streamflow depletion continues for some time after pumping stops because it takes time for a groundwater system to recover from the previous pumping stress. In some aquifers, maximum rates of streamflow depletion may occur long after pumping stops, and full recovery of the groundwater system may take decades to centuries.
- Streamflow depletion can affect water quality in the stream or in the aquifer. For example, in many areas, groundwater discharge cools stream temperatures in the summer and warms stream temperatures in the winter, providing a suitable year-round habitat for fish. Reductions in groundwater discharge to streams caused by pumping can degrade habitat by warming stream temperatures during the summer and cooling stream temperatures during the winter.
- The major factors that affect the timing of streamflow depletion are the distance from the well to the stream and the properties and geologic structure of the aquifer.
- Sustainable rates of groundwater pumping near streams do not depend on the rates at which groundwater systems are naturally replenished (or recharged), but on the total flow rates of the streams and the amount of reduced streamflow that a community or regulatory authority is willing to accept.
"Conjunctive management of groundwater and surface-water resources is critical, " said Mike Johnson, Chief of the Hydrology Bureau in the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer. "This new USGS publication consolidates our understanding of the connection between aquifers and streams and provides a clear, thorough and up-to-date explanation of the tools and techniques used to evaluate streamflow depletion by wells. This report will be very useful to water managers in guiding technical analysis, dispelling common misconceptions, and explaining these complex concepts to decision makers and the public."
The report, which is a product of the USGS Groundwater Resources Program, is titled “Streamflow Depletion by Wells—Understanding and Managing the Effects of Groundwater Pumping on Streamflow” and is available in print and online.
The Groundwater Resources Program provides objective scientific information and develops the interdisciplinary understanding necessary to assess and quantify the availability of the nation’s groundwater resources. The Program has been instrumental in documenting groundwater declines and in developing groundwater-flow models for use in sustainably managing withdrawals. The research and understanding developed through this program can provide water-resource managers with the tools and information needed to manage this important natural resource.
For more information, visit USGS.gov.
SOURCE: The United States Geological Survey (USGS)