John Exo appointed CALS and Extension Water Quality Programs Coordinator

Governor Tony Evers declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water. This is just one example of the many recent initiatives focused on water, and the relationship of agricultural production practices on ground water quality. A DNR rulemaking process has been initiated and specific requests have been received from two counties for CALS and Extension to provide science-based information to inform and provide guidance to the many stakeholders on the many complex issues around water quality.

In response, the Division of Extension and CALS have created the Water Quality Programs Coordinator position. John Exo has taken a two year leave of absence from his current duties as a natural resource educator to fill this role. There are hundreds of CALS and Extension faculty and staff that do work related to these issues. Exo’s task will be to coordinate communications between this large cast of UW players with the even larger number of people in our partner state agencies, agricultural constituency groups, farmer led watershed groups, and other stakeholders. Some of the specific goals of this coordination project will be to:

  • Survey UW faculty and staff and agency partners to identify existing resources that can inform management decisions to reduce the risk of nitrate contamination in ground water.
  • Organize these resources into a web-based user guide for agricultural producers and their service providers.
  • Identify new Extension materials that could be developed from an existing research base to inform management decisions to reduce the risk of nitrate contamination, facilitate the development of these materials and incorporate them into the user guide.
  • Survey UW faculty and staff and agency partners to identify research needs to inform decision making and best management practices to reduce nitrate contamination of groundwater.
  • Facilitate communications between UW response team and county boards, agency partners, water quality advocates, agricultural producers and other interest groups.

If you do research or extension programming that relates to the impact of agricultural practices on water quality, specifically nitrates in ground water in ecologically sensitive areas (shallow soils over karst bedrock and sandy soils), expect a call or visit from Exo, or feel free to proactively contact him to let him know about your work. Exo works out of the Baraboo campus of UW-Platteville and can be reached at, or 608-355-5360 (office) or 608-393-0496 (cell).