Kewaunee County Board Supervisor Lee Luft shared information with his mailing list regarding a manure release Sept. 24 in the town of Pierce.

The state Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that “Ebert Enterprises has stopped the discharge and is continuing to work to identify the source of the issue. They are pumping manure from a storage pit and moving it to another temporary location. Once the pit contents are reduced, they can excavate around the pit to investigate the cause of the discharge.”

Further details from Luft:

As most of you know, there was a manure release at Ebert Enterprises Longfellow Road site that entered into an unnamed tributary that flows under Highway 42 near Eighth Road and into Lake Michigan in the Town of Pierce.  After two days the DNR working with Ebert staff and the farm’s engineering consultant determined that the liquid manure is being released from the larger of two manure storage pits at this Longfellow Road site.  The flow of manure into an area of the unnamed tributary where it could eventually enter Lake Michigan has been stopped.  Our Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Department staff, to include Davina Bonness and Travis Engels have been at the site steadily since the first hour that the release was reported on Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 24) around 3:30 p.m.  Shortly after the release began, berms were set up in the unnamed tributary to collect the manure flow and pump it from the tributary.  Also, clean water entering the tributary was diverted to reduce the flow into the unnamed tributary. 

Please know that the manure did not overtop the pit and the release is not a spill or runoff from the land.  It appears as though the manure is draining from the pit and possibly intersecting with an old tile line or other lateral but this has not yet been confirmed.  A release from the transfer lines that move liquid manure from the barns to the pit has been ruled out.  The engineering firm wants to drain the pit and then begin excavation around the pit but again, the pit must be drained first to reduce the potential for damage to the pit during excavation and while the pit still contains manure.  The drained manure is being hauled to the Ebert Enterprise site on County D and other area farms that have pit capacity. 

I have received a number of questions about this manure release that I and others are not yet able to answer.  The questions still to be answered include how the liquid manure in the pit found its way to a tile line or other flow channel and into the unnamed tributary and how much of the liquid manure actually entered into the tributary and found its way into Lake Michigan.  What actions will the DNR take to ensure that the manure pit in question will not have a repeat problem, etc.  When the DNR is confident it has the answers to those and other questions, I or Davina will report to you again.

Thanks for your patience while the team worked to understand and manage this issue.

Photo: Crews work on containing a manure release along state Highway 42 in the town of Pierce in this reader-submitted photo.