The investigation into what caused a large manure spill that resulted in killing a significant amount of fish in Outagamie County has been completed.
The spill occurred in Dutchman Creek from the Neighborhood Diary, a large dairy farm located just northeast of Freedom.
Ben Uvaas, a DNR wastewater and runoff specialist, says he’s still not sure where to assess blame from the spill, but they do know what events let to the runoff and it includes the weather.
“Due to the weird timing of the year, the fact that they haven’t’ been able to really haul manure yet this spring because of the wet weather and all of the rain we’ve got, it’s the farm’s opinion-and believably-the fullest the pit has ever been,” Uvaas explained. “So, the weather circumstances combined with this runoff control system’s design, allowed manure to back flow through the pipe system and come up in an area where it can’t be collected and contained and ran into Dutchman creek.”
Neighborhood Dairy has been cooperative with the investigation and have taken steps to ensure this kind of accident doesn’t occur again.
Uvaas believes it was the farm’s quick response that helped contain the spill to just a mile-and-a-half stretch.
“The impact to the creek could have been over a much longer area, but since everyone got on it really quick, Neighborhood Dairy had their contractors there right away to begin putting in those berms and getting collection going with vacuum trucks and hoses and stuff, the impacts were limited to that stretch,” he said. “A mile-and-a-half sounds like a lot, but it could have been a lot more.”
Based on water quality measurements conducted by the DNR, they can assume a high percentage of water life died because of the release, however life should return to that stretch of the creek.
“Normally in these kinds of systems, once the cleanup is done and water quality improves, the section of the creek that did have those die-offs occur normally recover,” Uvaas assured. “Those fish come back, those water bugs come back, etc.”
Though Uvaas is waiting on final tallies from the farm, an estimated 20,000 gallons of manure were spilled into the creek.