Manure spreading on farm fields combined with heavy rains contributed to about a half-dozen spills that contaminated several Kewaunee County bodies of water in November and December, including one manure spill said to be in excess of 100,000 gallons, a Kewaunee County Board committee learned Tuesday.
The largest spill was on land spread for Wakker Dairy Farm, which also had a major spill in November 2017.
County Conservationist Davina Bonness told the Land & Water Conservation Committee that the Wakker spill involved two or three fields that were land-spread with manure that ran off and hit several drain-tile lines leading to tributaries of the East Twin River.
“There were two dead salmon in one of the intermittent (streams),” she said. Travis Engels from the Land & Water Conservation Department and new DNR Conservation Warden James Moore responded to the scene. “We make them break the tile lines, creating a sump so that all the manure goes into the sump and stops going into the intermittents, and then all of that’s cleaned up.”
The spill occurred on Friday (Dec. 7) and Engels also spent most of Saturday on scene, and two sanitation companies were still pumping out the sump on Monday, Bonness said.
“The (number of) gallons is really a big unknown,” she said.
Two other spills affected Scarboro Creek, one of them occurring about five days after a properly executed land spread, Boness said.
“He injected five days prior to the rain event, followed all the rules, but because of the rain and the saturation of the soils it all kind of went out of the – kind of just like draining the sponge because none of it soaked in,” she said. The manure hit a tile line and then went to Scarboro Creek.
The Wakker spill of Nov. 8, 2017, resulted in an estimated 116,200 gallons of manure being vaccuumed, according to DNR online records.
During the public input portion of the meeting, Nancy Utesch of Pierce called for the county to refer Wakker to the state Department of Justice and to revisit the manure hauling ordinance that was passed a year ago, under which haulers voluntarily report on their activities.
“Voluntary compliance does not work,” Utesch said. “It’s nice that we have given them that opportunity (but it) looks like it’s a failing model from what I can read from the last two months of what’s happened in our community and the violations that have taken place.”
Bonness said staff is preparing reports and will be talking with Corporation Counsel Jeff Wisnicky about potential fines and other penalties for the more “outrageous” violations.
And Supervisor Chuck Wagner, who chairs the committee, said that the penalty process takes time.
“There is due process, there are time frames where all these things happen,” Wagner said. “A lot of times people get very frustrated with the state or the municipality that’s dealing with the enforcement here, but we do have to follow, and they do have to follow protocols.”
Bonness said the county has more options to regulate manure spreading and levy fines if necessary, now that it has added Chapter 39 of county ordinances, which codifies the state administrative rule NR 151.
“The prohibition from NR 151 says you cannot have manure enter waters of the state,” she said. “I think that giving farms some fines for the outrageous ones is going (to have to happen) – and there’s a possibility that we can potentially fine the hauler, too.”
“That was going to be my question,” Supervisor Aaron Augustian said. “I mean some of these – the farms are responsible but the haulers have a little skin in the game, too.”
“I think there’s a way that we can get both. It’s very new to us,” Bonness said.
Photo: Kewaunee County Comet photo of the East Twin River