Farm runoff triggers water contamination warning

by Eric Peterson, originally posted on July 7, 2016


CALUMET COUNTY (WLUK) — Residents in Calumet County living near Plum Creek are being warned their water may be contaminated because of farm runoff.

The state is advising people in the area to keep themselves, their pets and farm animals away from the site.

On Thursday, crews from the Department of Natural Resources and Brown County comb the ditch of a Calumet County hay field, searching for answers to what may have happened one week ago.

“There’s a road culvert I guess right here, and it kind of made its way kind of off the field and through that culvert here, and down through this waterway,” said Nick Peltier, Brown County Agronomist.

The DNR says the runoff occurred after it rained.

“Manure left the field, probably due to precipitation and got into concentrated flow channels and tributaries to Plum Creek,” said Ben Uvaas, DNR Agricultural Specialist.

Uvaas says the manure flowed north, into southern Brown County, in the Town of Holland.

“Some of the impacts we’ve seen manure odor and color associated with the streams. A drop in water quality. Things like dissolved oxygen and impacts to the fish community. We’ve recorded some dead fish, Mostly suckers, minnows, and those sorts of species,” he said.

The DNR says Shiloh Dairy spread the liquid manure, and is responsibe for the clean-up.

“Shiloh Dairy is using a couple different contractors with vacuum trucks to remove impacted water from the creek,” said Uvaas.

Uvaas says since Wednesday, Shiloh Dairy was able to retrieve about 10,000 gallons of manure-tainted water.

Leaders at Shiloh Dairy did not want to go on camera, but General Manager Gordon Speirs issued a statement saying, “The farm and the DNR continue to try to determine the cause and effect. Shiloh Dairy has a healthy working relationship with the DNR and will continue to work with the agency through the process.”

Meanwhile, people are being asked to avoid Plum Creek as it eventually works its way toward the bay of Green Bay.

“We’re not sure the extent of these impacts. It kink of depends on how much rain will dilute it, and it kind of depends on the volume that the farm is able to collect from the stream,” said Uvaas.

Crews from the DNR will be back in the area Friday.

Once the investigation is complete, the owner of the farm could be fined.

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