Here we are in the midst of one of the worst droughts in recent memory.  In fact government data shows that this is the worst since 1956 with no real end in sight.  My guess? Once the rain comes, once the corn has been harvested or plowed under, once the flowers are blooming again and the grass is green… this drought will fade into a distant memory.  Did you take notice of the dying crops or the lowering water levels or the way that the birds and insects flocked to your garden sprinkler.  Did you listen to the news broadcasts describe the threat to our food supply due to lack of water or hear the tales of those whose wells ran dry because of the lower water table?  Are you listening to the plight of dairy farmers who, in the midst of trying to recover from low milk prices, may be forced to buy expensive hay just to feed their animals?

Like the warm and dry weather that chased away the rain, we have other, serious threats to our water.  Threats that will not go away when the rain returns.  Threats that will be permanent.  Threats that will impact everyone, everywhere.  We have man made threats resulting in over use, abuse really, of our water.  Here in Wisconsin, to anyone who is paying attention, large factory farms or CAFOs, are expanding unimpeded at an alarming rate.  These CAFOs house thousands of animals in very limited space and use millions of gallons of water.  Adams County in Central WI has recently been awakened to the reality of these factories.  Kewaunee County to the East has already been overrun by them.  In fact, WI had over 233 CAFOs at the beginning of 2012.  But citizens are saying enough is enough.  The proposed Richfield CAFO near Coloma has been met head on by concerned residents and property owners.  Legal action has been taken to stop the madness.  This CAFO alone has been permitted to pump nearly 132 million gallons of water when it has been proven that a lesser amount of 52 million gallons will cause harm to area lakes and trout streams.  A newly proposed CAFO and accompanying agricultural operations near Saratoga are seeking to drill  49 wells adding to the insanity.  The recently opened New Chester CAFO near Grand Marsh wasn’t even fully operational when it requested to double in size.   This would require so much water that the current wells intending to serve the CAFO will be capped and new wells drilled nearly 2 miles away and pumped back to the site.  Is anyone paying attention?  Is anyone listening to the concerns and fears?  Does anyone care what this trend is doing to our water, our air and our ability to simply enjoy our environment?