Policy change may come from St. Croix manure spill

Carol Spaeth-Bauer

TOWN OF EMERALD - A St. Croix County large-scale manure spill could prompt policy changes regarding groundwater quality and public information in the county, according to the Pierce County Herald.

A large manure spill at Emerald Sky Dairy could result in policy change in St. Croix County.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is still investigating a spill at Emerald Sky Dairy, which occurred in December 2016, but wasn't reported until March 29, 2017.

According to DNR staff, the majority of the release is contained in a wetland area, downslope from the farm’s waste storage facility. The wetland drains through a ditch and enters a storm water pond about 1,200 feet away.

"The stormwater pond is impacted by liquid and solid manure, and the outlet has been closed to prevent additional impacts to a wetland area downstream from the stormwater pond," DNR officials said in a statement.

Emerald residents who live near the dairy are concerned the spilled manure could contaminate groundwater and get into their wells, according to the Pierce County Herald story. Residents said they were not adequately informed of the manure spill.

While Community Development members instructed the county to mail Wisconsin Department of Public Relations press releases about the spill to property owners within a two-mile radius of the spill, county operators have no obligation to notify the public of a spill, according to the Pierce Herald story.

One county board member said more needs to be done to make sure neighbors are alerted of such incidents. A tentative recommendation to the county board, from the county's groundwater quality study group, is a revamped system of notifying residents when agricultural spills occur.

The group has partnered with Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey experts, along with farmers and groundwater hydrologists and wastewater specialists.