A small county in Wisconsin has recently discovered an issue that could cause many problems for the people living there. Kewaunee County is suffering greatly due to water contamination. Residents from the area have tried to prevent these problems but have encountered many conflicts while doing so. The federal, state, and local governments of the United States have not done everything in their power to end the contamination of water which results in Kewaunee County residents suffering.
Kewaunee County is home to fifteen concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOS) and over two hundred smaller sized farms.
These operations produce almost four hundred million gallons of manure each year which results in the groundwater contamination (Wichowsky, 2019). This contamination can lead to small amounts of available water and a various number of illnesses.
The three divisions of government in the United States include the federal, state, and local government. The federal government has the highest power of control and is able to declare laws that pertain to the entire nation while the state government has control over the local government.
This allows them to limit what the local government can enforce.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a federal organization that oversees the entire nation’s environmental issues. The EPA enforced three laws in order to help with water contamination. They include, the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery (RCRA) Act of 1976.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 “establishes the basic structure of regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters” (EPA, 2019).
This means that the EPA is able to control what is being put in the bodies of water. By doing this, they can help to prevent further water contamination from occurring.
The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 allows for the EPA to take measures in order to protect tap water. It also encourages citizens with private wells to have their water tested (Wichowsky, 2019). This helps to prevent illness by confirming whether or not citizens’ well water is safe for drinking.
Finally, the RCRA Act of 1976 states how farmers should dispose of solid wastes. By doing this, the EPA can help to prevent hazardous substances from entering into the water systems. Although all of these laws seem to be a big help, the government did not apply any of them despite Kewaunee County’s pleas (EPA, 2019). Because of this, Kewaunee County went to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), a state government organization.
The DNR issued a permit to all CAFOS but this did not satisfy the people of Kewaunee County. Next, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), another state organization, decided to step in. They were in charge of studying the problem and deciding what possible rules there may be as a solution to the problem.
Unfortunately, the rule-making process can take a long time. It includes a statement of scope, an initial drafting, external review, final agency reviewing, a legislative review, and the publication of the rule (Wischowsky, 2019). Due to the long wait of rule-making, Kewaunee County still had no solution to their problem.
Because of this, they went to their local government to address the issue. The County Land and Water Conservation Committee (LCCS) tried to help but was unable to implement the Clean Water Act due to the federal government having power over them (Wichowsky, 2019). As a result, Kewaunee County is still struggling with water contamination.
Some may say that the government has done everything possible in order to help Kewaunee County but this is not the case. The EPA had no problem implementing their acts into other locations such as Yakima Valley in Washington (Wichowsky, 2019). Unfortunately, they would not do the same for Kewaunee County even after the residents petitioned for it. This proves that they could have done more to put a stop to water contamination in Kewaunee County.
Overall, the three divisions of government were no help to Kewaunee County. The residents did everything in their power to gain clean water but the government would not listen. Instead, they gave Kewaunee County false hope multiple times by talking about invoking federal acts and then never implementing them. Because of this, Kewaunee County has to struggle daily with illness and a lack of clean water.