Pierce County Board passes waste storage ordinance revision

By Sarah Nigbor
Posted 9/14/23

The Pierce County Board Aug. 22 voted to amend the waste storage ordinance which had not been updated in 11 years. The update gives the county more oversight and enforcement over agricultural …

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Pierce County Board passes waste storage ordinance revision


The Pierce County Board Aug. 22 voted to amend the waste storage ordinance which had not been updated in 11 years. The update gives the county more oversight and enforcement over agricultural operations with liquid manure storage facilities, including CAFOs; allows the county to levy fines against those found in violation; and limits winter manure spreading, which can contaminate ground and surface waters during snow melt.

Teresa Davis, a member of People Protecting Pierce, said she is grateful to the board for developing ordinance language that will protect water in the county.

“Our county is blessed with unique water resources and preventing pollution should be a high priority,” Davis said in a recent GROWW newsletter. “We all deserve to enjoy drinking water we know is safe for our families and animals. There are additional ways to protect our water and quality of life, but having an updated ordinance to help to protect against liquid manure storage issues and runoff after liquid manure field application is a positive step.”

One significant change to the ordinance language is adding a Certificate of Use requirement. The COU will be used to monitor and regulate the operation of a manure storage facility and adequacy of related nutrient management plans. No person will be allowed to use or operate a manure storage facility permitted under the ordinance unless they have a valid COU for the storage facility or portion that is being used. The Land Conservation Department will issue the COU as long as conditions outlines in Section 101.45 are met.

Operators in compliance with the COU must do the following:

  • Update and follow a nutrient management plan that complies with ordinance requirements and covers all manure land applied from the manure storage facility issued the COU.
  • At all times of the exercise of the permit, the applicant must own the acreage or must provide the LCD copies of agreements for spreading manure on acreage, complying with USDA-NRCS standards. If rental agreements don’t include full cropping rights to the land, the agreements must require a minimum two-year agreement allowing the applicant access to the acreage for manure spreading.
  • Provide a nutrient management plan and DATCP checklist to Land Conservation by April 1 each year to document compliance with ordinance requirements.
  • Property operate the storage facility in accordance with performance standards and prohibitions consistent with the recommended operating methods as defined by the Technical Guide, AWMFH and EFH.
  • Maintain a minimum of 180 days of storage capacity for all liquid waste generated by the storage facility.
  • Properly maintain the storage facility free from visible and serious damage, erosion, or deformities that would impair the facility’s safety or function.
  • Properly maintain the safety devices for the facility.
  • Provide the LCD proof of compliance upon request and submit to periodic inspections of the storage facility with advance notice from the LCD.
  • Develop and implement a plan for closure of the manure storage facility when the operator ceases use of it or closure is required based on conditions specified in the ordinance.

The LCD can revoke the certificate if there is a misrepresentation of any material fact in the documents submitted in connection with the certificate use or management plan, failure to submit required documentation or allow inspection, a condition that immediately threatens public health or safety, or for multiple and repeat violations.

Supervisor Mel Pittman (District 17) introduced an amendment Aug. 22 before the vote that added the word “liquid” before waste storage facility under the storage capacity requirement of 180 days and struck the requirement of the COU being notarized.

Paul Fetzer, president of Fetzer Farms Inc., had adamantly objected to the notary requirement at the July county board meeting, as had other operators. They said it added a burden to them and didn’t mean anything legally.

This prompted discussion by supervisors. Mike Kahlow (District 6) asked about the legal impact of not having a signature notarized. He pointed out that notarization verifies that an individual is who they say they are.

Corporation Counsel Brad Lawrence said the Land Conservation Department can verify that without a notary.

Supervisor Sheila Lorentz (District 16) argued that having something notarized carries more weight in holding the landowner accountable and would alleviate stress on the LCD. LCD Director Rod Webb said he doesn’t think requiring land agreements to be notarized would help his department obtain compliance. 

Supervisor Melissa Petersen (District 14), who is an attorney, said all a notary does is look at an ID and say, “Yep, they are who they say they are.”

“There’s really no legal effort to having something notarized,” Petersen said. “It’s a witness to a signature. I think it would be onerous for these people to go to a bank or whatever to try to have something notarized when it might be just farming people who are, they just go and they have the person there sign it. It’s not going to do anything legally. There wouldn’t be any dispute unless someone said, ‘that’s not my signature.’”

The board approved the amendment and the ordinance itself unanimously. Violators will be fined $200 per day until compliance is obtained, plus cost of prosecution for each violation.

waste storage ordinance, Pierce County Board, Wisconsin