The Clear Water Farms Program

Successful farms engaged in water stewardship.

About

River Alliance of Wisconsin and the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) are working together to recognize and promote agricultural production and processing facilities that go above and beyond to protect Wisconsin’s waters.

The Clear Water Farms pilot program is a partnership between River Alliance of Wisconsin and farm owners at two dairy farms in Marathon County, WI. These farmers are applying the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard to their own farms in order to identify their water-related risks and work collaboratively with the community to address shared watershed risks.

Rationale

Times are tough for many farmers. Family farms are struggling. Agriculture is a part of Wisconsin’s heritage, but the idea of the “family farm” is changing as agriculture becomes increasingly consolidated. At the same time, Wisconsin’s natural heritage is at risk. Over 407,000 acres of our lakes and reservoirs and 6,575 miles of our rivers and streams are listed as “impaired” by phosphorus. 

Simply put, the status quo is not working.

To navigate out of this, we need to generate high-quality farm products that increase farm profitability, using methods that do not pollute—but rather, enhance—our waters. Innovative farmers are leading the way to embrace agricultural practices that protect the land and water in Wisconsin.

Goals

  • Assess, evaluate and enhance the water stewardship practices of agricultural production and processing facilities.
  • Provide a competitive, marketable advantage to agricultural producers and processors who identify and mitigate their water-related risks via the stewardship certification process.
  • Present opportunities for consumers to support models of agricultural systems that enhance water stewardship.

Meet the Farmers

 

Miltrim Farms and Rich-Mar/Dic-Wisco Farms are poised to be the first two farms—in the United States—to certify their on-site stewardship of water through the AWS International Water Stewardship Standard. Read more about the Clear Water Farms pilot program.

MILTRIM FARMS

Miltrim Farms is located near Athens, WI. As part of their certification process, they are committing to the following water stewardship practices:

  • Convert marginal land back to wetlands and pollinator habitat. This will increase infiltration, recharge groundwater, and prevent surface runoff.
  • Reduce wash water by 15 gallons per day per head, for an average water savings of 16 million gallons per year.
  • Incorporate no-tillage practices, cover cropping, and manure injection to hold soil in place, naturally cycle nutrients, and feed the soil biology.

RICH-MAR/DIC-WISCO FARMS

Rich-Mar/Dic-Wisco is a dairy operation also located near Athens, WI. The owners are committed to protecting groundwater and surface water resources, and will be investing in practices that reduce water consumption and runoff from fields and livestock areas, including:

  • Monitoring groundwater withdrawals to identify and eliminate any wasteful uses.
  • Planting cover crops and using crop rotations to ensure that fields have a living cover—not bare, tilled soil—year-round.

Learn More

Interested in learning more about the Clear Water Farms program?
Contact Falon French, Clear Water Program Director at
608-257-2424 x118 or email Falon.

Image: Tom Mueller (Miltrim Farms) and Dick Rau (Rich-Mar/Dic Wisco Farms) meet to discuss the Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard.