Heavy Rains Threaten Manure Overflows, Warns DNR
Look out downstream, says this DNR release:
Summer rains push manure storage facilities close to overflowing; Farmers urged to seek advice on temporarily reducing manure levels
News Release Published: June 28, 2013 by the Central Office
Contact(s): Mary Anne Lowndes, DNR, 608-261-6420; Donna Gilson, DATCP, 608-224-5130
MADISON – Heavy rains following a wet spring – and forecasts for more rain in many parts of southern Wisconsin this weekend -- are increasing the risk that manure storage facilities will overflow or fail, and that spreading manure now on already saturated fields will result in the manure running off into nearby streams and lakes, state agriculture and water quality officials say.
“With the volume of rain we’ve gotten this spring and summer, farmers may not have sufficient remaining storage to reach their typical fall application time,” says Greg Baneck, president of the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association and Outagamie County conservationist.
“We encourage farmers to contact their local conservation agent or crop consultant for advice on how to address the situation.”
These experts may know of existing storage with excess capacity that meets the current design requirements.
Larger livestock operations with a water quality protection permit, also known as the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, or WPDES permit, from the Department of Natural Resources should work directly with their local DNR contact.
Sara Walling, who leads the Resource Planning and Water Quality Section at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, says their engineers have been out in the field working with farmers. "Farmers who would like our assistance can contact their local land conservation office. They can also consult the online manure management advisory system athttp://www.manureadvisorysystem.wi.gov/" and use the nutrient application restriction maps to look for lower-risk fields to spread on.”
Plan ahead for the future
To prevent problems in the future, farmers are encouraged to evaluate if they have enough storage to accommodate heavy rain or other adverse conditions while maintaining a margin of safety, says Mary Anne Lowndes, who leads DNR’s runoff management section.
“Ensuring adequate manure storage can prevent spills and eliminate the added costs of emergency response as well as the increased risks associated with manure handling in very wet or unfavorable conditions,” she says.
Farmers are also encouraged to follow a new blog about manure management issues and written by a third generation Wisconsin family farmer. The blog, "Livestock to Land and everything in between," is aimed at growing the conversation with farmers on topics including manure storage, nutrient management plans and other ways to keep farms healthy and protect Wisconsin waters.
What about protecting our drinking water? Is surface water the only thing to be worried about? Can they just slather it on and let it soak in? As long as it doesn't drain off the field and kill the fish we humans will just have to hope we aren't drinking it.
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