Public hearing gives community platform to discuss water quality

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TOWN OF HOLLAND, Wis. (WXOW) — The Wisconsin DNR hosted a public hearing on Friday at Holland Town Hall to give community members a chance to discuss an operating permit request for a local hog farm.

Babcock Genetics is the hog farm west of Holmen. The La Crosse County Health Department asked for the hearing before the DNR issues a permit. They are concerned about nitrate levels in parts of La Crosse County. A 2017 survey revealed, for example, that nitrate levels higher than federal standards in 30% of the wells tested in the towns of Onalaska and Holland.

People living in the area are concerned about their drinking water and were among those attending today’s meeting.

“I want the DNR to go back and inspect Babcock and inspect all of the wells that they can,” Holland resident Kate Mayer said. “And really let us know… What are we drinking?”

“Today’s hearing went well,” Wisconsin DNR CAFO Specialist Ben Uvaas said. “About 50 people attended [and] more than 15 provided testimony. They were really good thoughtful questions and comments.”

“We have always gone by the letter of what the DNR has asked us to do,” Babcock owner Jim McPeak said. “We want to be the best neighbors we can and will continue working with the DNR as close as we can.” McPeak also said his family took control of the farm around 1978.

Marcus Aarsvold

Marcus Aarsvold

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