There was a manure spill six miles south of Manitowoc on Aug. 7 which went into Pine Creek, and Hochkammer Dairy is being held responsible.
Kevin Erb, Conservation Professional Training Program Director for the University of Wisconsin-Extension, coordinates professional training in the areas of water quality and manure management, among others.
Erb said, “Manure containers are generally made from steel or concrete holdings which hold six months or a year’s worth of manure. Every county south of Highway 8 except Milwaukee has ordinances that state you must build them to meet federal and state engineering standards.”
Recent trends show that the impacts of spills are negligible. The level of impact depends on the water temperature, air temperature and fish type. Different types of fish can tolerate different levels of oxygen said Erb.
Health Services tested the surrounding private and public beaches with negative results.
Erb’s research has found that spills of this nature occur less than two to three times per year. Storage units are engineered and designed to prevent such spills. Farms need to have a spill response plan to quickly contain a spill before it creates an environmental problem. Wisconsin is the first state that trained the public on how to respond to manure spills through demonstrations with controlled manure spills.
Ed Culhane, communication specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working with the farm to complete a detailed report.
Culhane said, “The spill was caused by a structural failure in manure pit, specifically the concrete plug failed. It went into a tile line so the spill wasn’t visible. Once it entered Pine Creek, it was reported on Aug. 7 then it was tracked to the farm and they were notified of the spill.”
The main consequence of this spill was the depletion of oxygen concentration, so forage fish died in that part of the Pine Creek, but the fish upstream will recolonize it. Each case is different. This did not turn out to be a public safety issue and there was no permanent damage, according to Culhane.
The specific quantity of manure spilled is still being investigated. However, the farmer is cooperative and the clean up was completed in two days. The DNR checked the stream on Aug. 10 and it ran clear. The DNR is expecting a compiled No Further Action documentation report which will explicitly highlight how the release occurred, the clean up process, and a permanent solution from the farmer said Culhane.
Once the report is received, it will be reviewed by the DNR and the typical response is to complete an on-site inspection.