Farmers pump river water to thirsty crops - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Farmers pump river water to thirsty crops


JEFFERSON COUNTY (WKOW) -- In a rare, if not unprecedented move, some southern Wisconsin farmers are getting permits to pump river and lake water to crops thirsty from the drought.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began issuing temporary irrigation permits this week, as the southern quarter of the state was declared an extreme drought.

Joe Mallow says he needed to do something drastic to save the crops on his farm near Ixonia in Jefferson County.

So, he brought in an irrigation system and began pumping water from the Rock River.

The DNR has to determine the environmental impact before issuing one of the permits.

"All of our streams are heavily stressed and everyone has a little bit different community to it. And trying to find where the natural community is more beneficial than letting an agricultural producer pump is a very difficult decision that the department has to make," said Travis Schroeder of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 

Mallow says the decision helped saved his alfalfa crop.

The emergency irrigation order lasts for a total of 60 days.


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