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UW-Madison Hires New Water Quality Programs Coordinator

This story is adapted from UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Science’s eCALS news site.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water. One of the many initiatives created under this declaration is a new Water Quality Programs Coordinator position created by the UW-Madison Division of Extension and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS).

John Exo, a former UW-Madison Division of Extension natural resources educator, is taking a two-year leave of absence from his position to fill this exciting new role. There are hundreds of CALS and Extension faculty and staff who do work related to these issues. Exo’s task is to coordinate communications between this large cast of UW players and the even larger number of people in partner state agencies, agricultural constituency groups, farmer led watershed groups, and other stakeholders.

For example, Exo is providing support to the Technical Advisory Committee for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ nitrate performance standard rule development process. He is also organizing UW’s research and other resources for the environmental and economic analysis that is taking place as a part of the rulemaking process.

UW-Madison and the Division of Extension have also received multiple requests from county officials for research-based recommendations for best practices to improve groundwater quality, which Exo is working in conjunction with fellow staff and faculty to address.

Additionally, Exo is working 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 and develop new Extension materials using the existing research base to inform management decisions to reduce the risk of nitrate contamination.
  • 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.

Water professionals across the region can use Exo as a resource and point of contact in Wisconsin on agriculture, nitrogen and groundwater issues and reach out to him. He can be reached at, or 608-355-5360 (office) or 608-393-0496 (cell).

John Exo, Water Quality Programs Coordinator

Headshot of John ExoExo is a Water Quality Programs Coordinator for UW College of Ag & Life Sciences. Currently on leave from Division of Extension, where he enjoyed 22 years as a co-Director and Educator in the Natural Resources Education Program. Prior to that he did policy development and soil and water conservation implementation for two southern Wisconsin counties. He holds a Master of Urban Planning from the University of Illinois and a BS in Natural Resources Management from UW-Stevens Point. He lives on 40 beautiful acres with his wife and two sons, where they work to restore health to the land.


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