DELAFIELD — Despite protests
from some of their Nashotah neighbors and objections from a city
alderwoman, the Common Council has agreed to allow Gehl Farmland
Investments to inject liquid manure on 262 acres of farmland near
the Nashotah Seminary on the city’s northwest side.
The agreement with John Gehl adopted on a 6 to 1 vote on May 6 and
has been described as “a compromise” by City Administrator Tom
The agreement will give the city some control over the manure
injection operations even though regulating manure applications is
usually the exclusive domain of the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources, according to Hafner.
Gehl warned city officials he would sell the land to developers if
he was not allowed to inject manure on the former Nashotah House
Seminary Farm that he purchased in 2016. In August of 2017, scores
of Delafield and the village of Nashotah neighbors complained about
the public health threat and stench created by liquid manure from
the Tag Lane Dairy of Ixonia that was improperly injected on the
Owners of the dairy, a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) with
more than 2,000 cows, said the stench was the result of an equipment
failure and improper application of the liquid manure.
As a result of the incident, Delafield and Nashotah both adopted
local ordinances that outlawed the spreading or injecting of manure
created by agricultural activities outside the city limits and
The city, however, repealed its ordinance in August of 2018 after
Gehl threatened to sell the land, presently in conservation, to
Since then city officials and Gehl’s representatives have been
negotiating a compromise.
Mayor Kent Attwell says he supports the agreement because it is
likely to result in the more than 200 acres of farmland being
preserved as open space which is consistent with the city’s
long-range land use plan.
In addition, the agreement restricts where the manure can be
injected and allows city officials to inspect the process.
“You can be sure that Tom Hafner and Tim Aicher will be watching,”
Attwell told Conley Media.
The farm is in Common Council President Tim Aicher’s aldermanic
Concern from community
Aicher said 18 residents who reside next to the land reviewed the
agreement and had no objections to it.
However, “All of that is happy talk,” said Alderwoman Jackie Valde,
who voted against the agreement.
“I don’t think we should be risking Delafield’s aquifers,” she told
Valde, a teacher who studied environmental science at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison, said scientific studies determined that
aquifers serving some communities in southwestern Wisconsin were
contaminated by manure from confined animal feeding operations.
She asserts cows from CAFOs have more toxic manure than cows in
smaller farm operations because the CAFO cows are confined in small
spaces and administered antibiotics and chemicals to encourage milk
About a half-dozen Nashotah residents at the May 6 council meeting
agreed with Valde and pleaded with the council not to approve the
Nashotah has not rescinded its local ordinance restricting manure
spreading despite a threat from Gehl to sell conservation land he
owns in the village, said Village President Rich Lartz.
Gehl is required to file an annual report to the city that
identifies when manure injections may occur, according to the
If no plan is submitted by April 15, no manure injection is
permitted in that calendar year. According to the agreement, the
city must be notified by Jan. 15 if a manure injection is planned in
April or May.
Hafner said he does not anticipate a manure injection this year.
According to the agreement, the amount of manure to be injected
shall not exceed one half of the amount permitted by the DNR and
manure cannot be injected within 200 feet of private wells.
If Gehl Farmland Investments fails to abide by the agreement, the
Common Council can adopt an ordinance prohibiting injection or
spreading of manure that was not produced within the city limits,
according to city officials.