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DNR releases Wild Rose Dairy manure spill report
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WILD ROSE DAIRY, a 1,000-animal-unit confined animal feeding operation in rural LaFarge, has been the site of two manure spills in less than two years.Photo courtesy of WDNR

LA FARGE - Wild Rose Dairy, a 1,000-animal-unit confined dairy operation, located in rural LaFarge, experienced its second manure spill in less than two years on Thursday, May 16. Both times, the spill occurred when the dairy’s manure handling company, K and D Manure Handling, experienced a break in their hoses or ‘drag lines,’ used to transport manure from the storage lagoon to fields where it would be applied.

The most recent spill is estimated to have spilled 10,000 gallons of manure, and the 2017 spill is estimated at 30,000 gallons. The 2017 spill left 1,300 trout dead, and 400 fish are believed to have been killed in the May 2019 spill.
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THIS MAP shows the path the manure took in Wild Rose Dairy’s October 2017 manure spill.Photo courtesy of WDNR

In the 2017 ‘Notice of Violation,’ the DNR notified Wild Rose Dairy of the following:

The Department of Natural Resources has reason to believe that Wild Rose Dairy, LLC is in violation of state agriculture/water pollution control laws ch. 292, Wisconsin Statutes and ch. NR 243,Wisconsin Administrative Code, and the conditions of Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System

(WPDES) Permit #WI-0059072-04-0 at property located at E11310 Buckeye Ridge Road, La Farge, Township of [Webster], Vernon County, Wisconsin. These violations were documented in response to a spill notification received by Michelle Scarpace on October 2, 2017. The department alleges the following violations:

•        WPDES Permit Section 1.5 Nutrient Management- Except as provided for in s.NR 243.142(2), the permittee is responsible for ensuring that the manure and process wastewater generated by the operation is land applied or disposed of in a manner that complies with the terms of this permit, the approved nutrient management plan and NR 243.14.

 • Section 29.2.11(3), Wis.Stats.- A person who possesses or controls a hazardous substance which is discharged or who causes the discharge of a hazardous substance shall take the actions necessary to restore the environment to the extent practicable and minimize the harmful effects from the discharge to the air, lands or waters of this state.

• Section 292.11(2), Wis.Stats.,- A person who possesses or controls a hazardous substance or who causes the discharge of a hazardous substance shall notify the department immediately of any discharge.

Although the DNR re-leased their final report on the 2017 incident and turned it over to the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) on November 14, 2017, the DOJ still has taken no enforcement action regarding the incident. Further, the dairy’s Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (WPDES) has been expired since 2015. 

Wild Rose Dairy is co-owned by Arthur Thelen and Westby Attorney David L. Abt. Abt is co-founder, co-manager, partner and CFO for Wild Rose Dairy. Established in 1998, the permitted CAFO milks dairy cows and raises 900 heifers, and over 1,600 acres of corn and alfalfa.
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THIS MAP shows the path the manure took in Wild Rose Dairy’s May 2019 manure spill. The estimated hose length from the manure storage facility to the point of release is 6,200 feetPhoto courtesy of WDNR

2019 spill report

The report on the 2019 manure spill at Wild Rose Dairy was released last week. It appears that the dairy was much more proactive in prompt reporting of the spill, and made considerable effort to contain and clean up the spilled manure to reduce impacts.

The report was prepared by DNR Staff Tyler Dix, Water Quality Biologist Camille Bruhn, Conservation Officer Kirk Konichek, and report writer Eric Struck.

The report reads as follows:

“On Wednesday, May 15, 2019 at 11:20 a.m., Eric Struck received a phone call from David Abt of Wild Rose Dairy. He had conferenced in Dustin Harris, farm general manger. David Abt was calling to inform the regional CAFO Specialist that K and D Manure Handling had a hose break resulting in a manure spill. The manure had reached Otter Creek and dead fish were observed in the stream. Dustin Harris gave the spill estimate of 5,000 to 10,000 gallons. Abt and Harris had stated they had already called the spills hotline. The spills notification email was received at 11:08 a.m. Harris stated they had constructed a dam with bank materials and had been actively pumping the stream until it was running clear.

“At 3:30 p.m., Struck and Dix arrived on site. Conservation officer Konichek was already on site and had surveyed the nearest road crossings for dead fish. Water Quality Biologist Bruhn arrived shortly after Struck and Dix to collect water samples. Once on site, Struck and Dix met with Harris, who was with Warden Konichek near the first dam that was constructed at a stream crossing in the pasture south of Allen Road.
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FIRST DAM SITE con-structed at a previous cattle crossing, with ponded, manure-laden water present behind dam area.Photo courtesy of WDNR

“Harris described what [had] happened on site. A transfer hose from the waste storage facility located at Wild Rose Dairy had ruptured. 

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SECTION OF HOSE that failed on the bank of the tributary to Otter Creek. The section of hose was cut out and the hose was repaired.Photo courtesy of WDNR

The hose was running along and in the unnamed tributary to Otter Creek. The rupture occurred on the south side of Allen Road, about 1,200 feet east of the intersection of County D. The hose was about 40 feet from the unnamed tributary to Otter Creek. 

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PASTURE AREA where hose break occurred, just south of Allen Road, ma-nure spray observed around the entire area and up into the tree. Looking upstream of the unnamed tributary to Otter Creek.Photo courtesy of WDNR

Harris said as soon as the application system lost pressure the pump was shut down. The manure remaining in the hose drained out and flowed into the tributary.  Harris used a skid loader to construct the first dam at the cattle crossing.  The property owner on Allen Road owns a septic truck, and began pumping from the first dam immediately.

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LOOKING UPSTREAM from the bank of Otter Creek at the site of the second dam created and the pumping operation.Dammed up water was being pumped and applied to a hay field.Photo courtesy of WDNR

A second dam was constructed just upstream of the confluence of the unnamed tributary and Otter Creek. Harris said manure did reach Otter Creek and dead fish were already observed.

“Bruhn collected water samples in the area around the spill, Dix also collected some dead fish. Struck talked more with Harris and walked the area surrounding the spill.
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A DEAD WHITE SUCKER lies about 760 feet down-stream from the conflu-ence of the unnamed tributary and Otter Creek.Photo courtesy of WDNR

The inspection by Struck and Harris began where the hose ruptured.  Manure had been sprayed over the entire area and up into the nearby tree. The hose had been repaired and the farm was still actively pumping from the waste storage facility at Wild Rose Dairy.  The hose was being run along and in the unnamed tributary.   Manure solids were still observed in the stream and on the stream banks.

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THE SPILL LOCATION, where a hose splice can be seen on the hose, and liquid manure can be seen around the hose break areaPhoto courtesy of WDNR

Harris said just prior to the arrival of Dix and Struck, he had just reopened the upstream dam to allow them to pump out more of the water that was building up.  The second dam was at the confluence of the unnamed tributary and Otter Creek. 

A large pumping rig was being operated by K and D Manure Handling. As the water would pool up they would pump it down.  The water was being land applied to a hay field nearby.
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OTTER CREEK, 500 feet down stream of the second dam shortly after construction. Photo from Matt Albright, Vernon County Land and Water Conservation

  At this time the unnamed tributary at the dam area was cloudy and contained a lot of manure solids.   As Struck and Harris moved past the confluence of the unnamed tributary and Otter Creek, dead fish were observed. Dead trout and suckers were observed in the stream and along the banks as they moved down stream.

“After the inspection of the site Dix, Struck and Harris talked about the rest of the cleanup process. K and D and Harris were going to flush the banks and streambed to wash the remaining solids to the dam area. Harris did send Struck pictures of the cleanup of the spill site the next day.  K and D used a fire hose to wash down the area.
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PUMPING TRUCK at the waste storage facility at Wild Rose Dairy, actively pumping. Photo courtesy of WDNR

“Bruhn, Dix, and Struck left the spill area at about 5 p.m.  Dix and Struck stopped at the waste storage facility to observe the pumping operation. The waste storage was actively being pumped, and an agitation boat was being used in the waste storage facility.”