MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Environmental regulators are set to allow a dairy farm accused of contaminating Kewaunee County drinking water to expand, drawing the ire of conservationists.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports Tuesday that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has drafted new permit conditions allowing Kinnard Farms to nearly double its 8,000-head herd.

The permit would give the farm until March to come up with a plan for monitoring groundwater on the more than 16,000 acres where it spreads manure.

Local Five reached out to members of the Wisconsin DNR for comment regarding these recent developments.

The department is proposing to modify the current permit for Kinnard Farms in response to a farm-specific settlement agreement and a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court opinion. The modification is required to include a cap on the number of animal units for the facility and, if practical, require groundwater monitoring to ensure compliance with effluent limitations at land application site(s).

As set forth in law, the department requested Kinnard Farms to provide a projected maximum number of animal units. The proposed permit includes this projection, as a cap of 21,450 animal units for the facility; however, if the farm actually increases animal units during the permit term, they will be required to demonstrate that they have the required storage capacity and land base available to properly manage manure and process wastewater. To date the department has not received any application materials that suggest Kinnard Farms Inc is actually expanding animal units beyond current levels.

The department has determined that groundwater monitoring of manure land spreading sites is practical and warranted. The proposed permit modifications require the farm to submit plans for monitoring groundwater at manure application fields. The plans will follow a phased approach using standard protocols to ensure that scientific information is used as a basis for: 1) understanding the impacts of land application of manure on groundwater, and 2) future decisions regarding defining the extent of any contamination.

Sarah Hoye Communications Director, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Back in July 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against Kinnard Farms and allowed the DNR to impose farm conditions.