A company that spread manure over a Kewaunee County field that later leaked into an intermittent stream paid $767.50 in forfeitures and court costs last week.
The penalty against L&M Industries of Black Creek is one of seven sought by Kewaunee County officials over alleged violations of an ordinance passed last fall to enforce manure-spreading regulations over the county’s fragile karst topography.
Five farms and three haulers were cited in connection with spills of liquid manure into state waters that were discovered in November and December during routine inspections by the county Land & Water Conservation Department.
The citations asked a judge to levy fines and court costs of $1,397.50 each against Robert and Marlene Kratz, Seidls’ Mountain View Dairy, Stahl Brothers Dairy, and Joseph and Dennis Steinhorst. L&M, a hauler hired by Stahl Brothers, was also cited for $1,397.50 but settled at the lower amount.
The county is also seeking fines and court costs totaling $3,302.50 against Johannes Wakker for two spills into Sandy Bay Creek and $4,700 against Gregory Stodola of Luxemburg, a hauler hired by Wakker and Seidls to spread manure on their fields.
County Conservationist Davina Bonness told the Land & Water Conservation Committee on Tuesday (March 12) that the manure spreading that led to the spills followed the rules set down by newly approved state and county regulations but they chose to spread despite a rainy forecast.
“The fact that you had extremely saturated soils and we had a 1-2 inch rain event come, it literally took everything that was on site and flushed it into the adjacent rivers,” Bonness said. “The ones that were spreading during this time that didn’t have run-off problems, they had extra tractors out there, so they had tractors just working the perimeter making sure that nothing left the field. They were immediately incorporating it, they were making sure that they were breaking up the soil surface both pre-application and post-application – those were the ones that we didn’t have any issues with.”
Kratz, Seidls’, Steinhorst and Stodola filed answers to the citations contending that they successfully took steps to ensure that manure did not enter state waters. Stahl Brothers and Wakker did not respond within a 20-day window mentioned in the complaint.
Bonness said that at a meeting last month, haulers asked for informational meetings every spring and fall to clarify what they’re allowed to do under the new regulations, which were passed to protect groundwater from contamination.
She added that conditions are ripe for a tough spring for farmers who need to dispose of manure.
“It is going to be really bad,” Bonness said. “We have a lot of snow, we have extremely saturated conditions, it’s going to be a fast melt. Thankfully we still have our Public Health and Groundwater Protection Ordinance, so we kind of have some leeway through April 15.”
The ordinance bans manure spreading on shallow soils during the winter months through mid-April.
“But if we get the spring rains, it’s not going to be good,” she said. “Pits are filling up, because the fall was really bad; farms wanted to get a lot more manure out than they did.”