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Thursday, April 13, 2017

DNR cleaning up manure spill at farm in St. Croix County, not reported until March

EMERALD - Officials with the state's Department of Natural Resources are busy with the clean-up of a manure spill from a large dairy farm located in eastern St. Croix County which reportedly took place last year.

A press release from the group Emerald Clean Water for All stated that the spill at the Emerald Sky Dairy near the town of Emerald actually occurred in December of last year but was not reported to authorities until March 29 and only by way of anonymous tip as stated in the press release:

"The tip indicated there had been a spill of 'tens of thousands of gallons of manure water' that had not been reported to DNR officials as required by the dairy's permits with State and local entities.  No time line was given as to when this occurred. County staff investigated and found tens of thousands of gallons of both liquid and solid manure in the storm water pond and adjacent wetland at Emerald Sky Dairy.  According to staff at Emerald Sky Dairy, this occurred in December 2016, but wasn't reported to the DNR until 3/29/17 upon encouragement by St. Croix County staff.  A check valve had burst, causing the spill, but has since been repaired with no immediate concern of further contamination."

Kim Dupre, a spokesperson for the group Emerald Clean Water for All and who lives near the farm, stated the spill demonstrated the "state's flawed 'self-reporting' regulation of industrial farms."

According to news reports, the DNR stated the majority of the release has been contained in a wetland near the farm's waste storage unit which drains into a nearby stormwater pond. The spill is still under investigation by the DNR and the agency, farm and local contractors are working to clean it up.

The Emerald Sky Dairy has nearly 2,500 cows and is within in the watershed for the Willow River, Kinnickinnic River and St. Croix River. Ninety families live within two miles of Emerald Sky Dairy and area residents are encouraging their neighbors to get their wells tested since this spill occurred nearly four months ago and ground water may have been affected.

The spill comes at a time when the dairy has asked the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors for expansion to operate a dairy containing over 6,000 cows

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