OPINION: City Officials Not Doing Enough to Protect Groundwater
To the Editor:
Concerned citizens have asked local officials for the past four years to protect the groundwater of this county. We believe citizens have the right to clean safe drinking water and it is the responsibility of our County Board of Supervisors to ensure our drinking and groundwater remains pure and safe. However, instead of being proactive in finding ways to work with this situation and its constituents, we have heard repeatedly from elected leadership they can do nothing.
We understand elected Supervisors cannot create ordinances for our county that supersede state law. However, that does not mean Supervisors can’t create ordinances, as many other counties have, that would add a layer of additional protection to our area and its groundwater. That absolutely DOES fall within your power.
Citizens are not asking Supervisors to create an ordinance that bans CAFOs from Wood County. We are not asking you to put water protections in place that go above and beyond what the state allows you to do. We have asked for protections that are well within your authority, given you examples, and yet they are ignored.
Regulating the aerial spraying of liquid waste is something that has been proven by numerous counties that you DO have the authority to oversee. We are not asking you to ban the use of manure – we are asking for you to regulate how it is dispersed. You have the power to do that.
Additionally, we have submitted to you a copy of the Bayfield Operating Ordinance, created by Glenn Stoddard, renowned environmental attorney representing individuals, citizen groups, and local governments. Mr. Stoddard has been practicing environmental law his entire life, protecting towns and citizens from certain industries that try to force their way into areas and knowingly cause devastating environmental impacts.
Mr. Stoddard is an EXPERT in this area and yet, when his ordinance example was presented to the Board of Supervisors, Corporate Counsel Peter Kastenholz immediately threw up his arms stating it’s illegal. Our county elected officials needs to quit hiding behind the “We will get sued” paranoia and talk to the experts in the field regarding appropriate ordinances.
Mr. Stoddard read the response of Mr. Kastenholz regarding his ordinance for Bayfield shared with County Supervisors and chuckled, noting that either Mr. Kastenholz has no understanding of the ordinance at all or was simply acting on orders to rubber-stamp it as illegal so no further action would be necessary.
Citizens of this county respectfully ask the Wood County Board of Supervisors to truly investigate an Operating Ordinance as a level of protection for citizens of this county for any large-scale business that would have significant environmental impacts on the area in which they choose to locate.
Let’s quit hiding behind idle threats of law suits and start acting in the best interest of your constituents.