UPDATE: Kewaunee County filed a civil suit against Kinnard Farms Inc. alleging livestock operation runoff and seeking a civil forfeiture on Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 10).

ORIGINAL STORY

The Kewaunee County Land & Water Conservation Department has submitted its final reports to the corporation counsel’s office regarding a large manure spill that happened in early August.

There will be a citation, we’re working on the details now,” County Conservationist Davina Bonness told the county Land & Water Committee on Tuesday (Sept. 10).

A contractor working with Kinnard Farms spread manure over a field along Chestnut Road near Pheasant Road shortly before a major rainfall on Aug. 7. A weather station near Casco recorded 1.64 inches, but several people in the area reported 4 to 5 inches from the storm, Bonness said.

The state Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene that night, and Bonness’ office began documenting the matter the next morning as a violation of the county’s groundwater protection ordinances, she said.

Contaminated water reportedly flowed into Rio Creek and eventually the Ahnapee River.

The County Board has never authorized or budgeted the Land & Water Conservation Department to collect water samples or do surface water testing at the scene of the spill, instead depending on the DNR, which had personnel at the scene in this case, Bonness said.

“In instances where the DNR is not there – they would potentially be the governing authority – if they don’t do it and we see a need for it, we’d have to budget for that,” County Board Chairman Robert Weidner said in response to a query by Supervisor Lee Luft, a committee member. “That’s a matter of this committee submitting a budget request.”

“I think that’s what we need to do,” Luft replied. The proposed 2020 county budget is due to be released later this month, and a public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15.

The Ahnapee Town Board was planning to discuss the spill, along with a second incident that occurred near El-Na Farms Friday (Sept. 6), when it met Wednesday evening, but DNR personnel who were invited had to postpone their visit until the board’s Oct. 9 meeting.

In the case of the El-Na event – which involved solid manure that was being incorporated into the soil but washed away in heavy rain before the job was completed – county Public Health officials went door-to-door to inform neighbors of a drinking water advisory.

“It was not liquid manure, it was kind of like a packed solid sand manure that was applied – tons, not gallons – and they got two inches of rain and it flowed off,” she said.

The land where the manure was being applied was in a shallow karst area, and the run-off was observed entering sinkholes, leading to the advisory, Bonness said. Only a small area of the property in the Kinnard incident had shallow bedrock, she added.

Six of the seven cases Kewaunee County filed in the wake of spills last fall have now been resolved, resulting in a total of nearly $4,000 in civil forfeitures, Bonness reported.

In the most recent resolution, Seidl’s Mountain View Dairy LLC challenged the county’s effort to impose a $1,397.50 forfeiture, but Judge Keith Mehn upheld the fine after a court trial Aug. 21. Bonness said it’s hoped a settlement will be reached soon in the seventh case.