State plans to help fix Kewaunee County water issues

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KEWAUNEE COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) — Gov. Scott Walker announced a plan to bring a biodigester to Kewaunee County and other parts of the state with water quality problems Thursday afternoon.

Walker said making sure residents have safe drinking water is a top priority for his administration.

It is no secret that there is a problem with drinking water in Kewaunee County.

According to a study by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), about one-third of the county’s private wells, where the majority of residents get their water, are filled with water that is unsafe to drink.

The problem is manure runoff from the county’s many dairy farms.

Governor Walker, along with the Public Service Commission, DNR, and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, announced a plan they said will help.

That plan is to get a biodigester.

Farmers said the machine is a good tool for making electricity, removing pathogens, and taking away the odor of manure.

“The more that we can put through this biodigester, the better off the community would be,” said John Pagel, a dairy farmer in Kewaunee County.

“It helps clean water, it helps the environment with sustainable energy, and it helps our farmers which is an important part of our state’s economy,” Governor Scott Walker said.

Farmers said the dairy industry and clean water and both staples of the community, so making sure both are thriving is critical.

They have been meeting for the past three years discussing the possibility of getting a biodigester.

“We’ve been meeting with all size farmers — everybody from 50 cows to 5,000 cows and everybody in between,” Pagel said.

The state has set a December 1 deadline to release its recommendations.

Governor Walker said the biodigester will likely cost between $10 million and $20 million and be partially funded by farms.