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March 14 Babcock Wastewater Public Hearing

As reported in The La Crosse Tribune on February 13, the Wisconsin DNR will hold a public informational hearing on a wastewater permit renewal requested by La Crosse County hog CAFO Babcock Genetics, Inc. The hearing will be held at y the Town if Holland Town Hall, W7937 County Highway MH on Thursday, March 14 at 10 am.

Here is the public notice issued by the DNR. Permit information s available online at
Persons wishing to comment on or object to the proposed permit action, the terms of the nutrient management plan, or the application, are invited to do so by attending the public hearing or by submitting any comments or objections in writing to the Department of Natural Resources, at the permit drafter’s address. All comments or suggestions received from members of the public no later than 7 days following the date of this public hearing will be used,  along with other information on file and testimony presented at the hearing, in making a final determination.
The Department has tentatively decided that the above specified WPDES permit should be reissued.

Written comments should be sent to permit drafter: Ben J. Uvaas, DNR Oshkosh Service Center, 625 E. Cty Rd Y, Oshkosh, WI 54901, (920) 303-5433,

In October 2017, the Coulee Region Sierra Club held a public program on water quality concerns in La Crosse County following reports from La Crosse County that pollution levels were dangerously high in the area of the CAFO. At that time a La Crosse County water team was just beginning its investigation into the problem. Their final report, released in

Midwest Environmental Advocates has a great toolkit for communities dealing with challenges of industrial animal product factories in rural areas as does the Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network.

The Upper Missouri Waterkeepers have a good page of tips for public hearing comments including:

Here Are a Few Comment Writing Tips (both public speaking and written comments):
  • If speaking at a hearing, speak slowly and focus on problems in the Permit that affect you
  • Don’t miss a deadline… get your comments in on-time
  • Write and speak in your own words.  If sending a letter in by email, remember quoted and form letters aren’t counted as individual comments, and neither do sign-on letters
  • Make your comments relevant.  How do industrial scale animal feedlots affect you and your family? DO you live near a feedlot or animal operation now, or recreate near one, and if so how does it affect your 
  • family/outdoors/fishing/hunting/boating/ enjoyment of the outdoors?
  • Be concise, be respectful, and use proper grammar
  • Close your comments by asking DEQ to address the identified problems and oversights in its draft General Permit to better protect public health and the environment
This excellent article from the La Crosse Tribune provides background information.
According to Steinhoff, La Crosse County’s Babcock Genetics CAFO was referenced in the audit bureau report, noting that monitoring wells on the site had found nitrogen concentrations exceeding the limit starting in 2005. Steinhoff said the audit bureau asked the DNR specifically about the Babcock Genetics CAFO. “The response was that they’re still studying it,” he said. “The question the people of La Crosse County should be asking is, ‘How long does this take to come to some resolution.’”

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