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Slip-slidin’ Away

November 19, 2019

Livestock sewage dumping on farm fields continues in the Western Lake Erie Basin.  Today, we have two more examples of manure application on snow, thawing, saturated ground.  Snow from last week is melting, freeze/thaw soil conditions, ground is saturated.  The roads around these fields are a mess, with a trail of manure and mud on Beecher Rd. in Hudson Township.

Cash crops won’t be planted until next spring, so there’s no need for fertilizer.

First up - Last week before roughly 8" of snow fell here, Hartland Farms applied liquid manure on corn stubble.  It wasn't incorporated.  If this field is designated as "no-till" (and many of them are), they don't have to incorporate this within 24 hours; in fact/ they don't have to incorporate it at all.  (This is true both in Michigan and for Ohio's "not-a-ban" rule.) East side of Hughes Hwy., south of Beecher Rd., Bear Creek/Raisin watershed.

Today, more than a week later, Hartland is applying dry solids on a different part of this same field.  The sludge you see along the bottom of the picture is actually the road itself, a mixture of mud and manure and runoff.  Southeast corner of Hughes and Beecher, Bear Creek/Raisin watershed.  Hughes Highway just south of Beecher is a mess right now.

Moving west, Hartland is also applying dry solids on the west side of Dowling Highway between Beecher and Cadmus Rds., Bean Creek/Tiffin/Maumee watershed.  Poop wagon dropping its load just went over the top of the hill, out of view, as this photo was taken.

Farther south on Dowling, same application. You can see the snow hasn't entirely melted yet.

We promise you, this isn’t just happening here.  Our CAFOs aren’t the only ones who have to dispose of their waste in these conditions.

The one sure thing about manure farming is that production never stops, and it has to go somewhere.  Just like flushing your toilet, except instead of going through the appropriate wastewater treatment, this sewage goes right onto farm fields.



Ohio cities want pig manure treated like human waste to protect Lake Erie from harmful algal blooms

October 3, 2019

By  -

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The cities of Toledo and Oregon, as well as surrounding Lucas County, want to stop manure from causing harmful algal blooms in Lake Erie.

So they’re asking the state to require two proposed confined-animal feeding operations -- with a total of 14,400 swine in the Maumee River watershed -- to treat pig waste to the same standards as human sewage.

“For communities in the western basin, we’re bearing the cost of the algae problem in the lake,” Oregon City Administrator Mike Beazley said in a phone interview. “The state loves to talk about it. And likes to spend money on things that don’t really work... We’re just asking that they hold those facilities and industries to the same standards that they hold cities.”

Ohio has spent millions of dollars to address the annual scourge of toxic algae in Lake Erie. Family farmers have adopted new practices, to cut back on phosphorus from commercial fertilizers flowing into the water. Cities have added expensive technology to treat drinking water for toxins.

Still, EPA research shows no decrease in phosphorus flowing into the lake.

The bloom this year was extensive, despite the fact that a rainy spring kept many farmers from planting fields and spreading fertilizer.

The Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center is suing the U.S. EPA over the pollution, arguing the agency must force Ohio to set a total maximum daily load of phosphorus allowed in the Maumee River. Lucas County has joined the lawsuit, and the cities of Toledo and Oregon have been recognized as interested parties.

“The state has spent way over $1 billion and it’s manifestly not working,” said Rob Michaels, an attorney for the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “New confined animal feeding operations have been springing up all over the watershed… The idea that they want to pursue alternatives and build on that is plainly incorrect. It’s like a kid’s excuse for not doing their homework. It makes no sense.”

Last week, during a four-hour hearing, a federal judge said he did not understand how Ohio plans to meet its pledge of reducing phosphorus by 40 percent by 2025, under a 2016 pact with Ontario and Michigan. The state is nowhere near meeting an interim goal of 20 percent by 2020.


Toledo officials spurred by prospect of more livestock farms – Toledo Blade

October 2, 2019

Toledo Blade - Tom Henry

Elected officials in the Toledo area have taken a new approach in their ongoing battle against large livestock operations that contribute to Lake Erie’s harmful algae blooms.

They’re asking the Ohio Department of Agriculture to require that all manure from such facilities get treated to the standards of human-made sewage before it’s spread on fields as fertilizer.

Toledo City Councilman Nick Komives also addressed the county board, stating that Toledo shouldn’t have to keep spending “layers upon layers of money” keeping algal toxins out of the city water supply when nutrients that grow algae could be better controlled at the source.

“CAFOs impact both water and air quality,” Mr. Komives said. “These are factories we’re talking about that are producing as much waste — if not more — than cities.”

All three commissioners spoke out against CAFOs.

Commissioner Pete Gerken said Ohio appears to be “engaged in almost a whack-a-mole policy” when it comes to addressing algae-forming nutrient runoff, being more reactive than proactive and waiting to address problems as they pop up.

“We are never going to get to that 40 percent reduction with the policies in place today by the state of Ohio,” Mr. Gerken said, referring to a non-binding goal the states of Ohio and Michigan signed with Ontario a few years ago to reduce phosphorus releases into area waterways 20 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025, compared to 2008 levels. Scientists also have said the state is nowhere close to meeting those goals yet.

Mr. Gerken also referenced a federal court lawsuit that Lucas County has going against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the Environmental Law & Policy Center, as well as Advocates for a Clean Lake Erie. It centers around allegations that the U.S. EPA is failing to enforce the federal Clean Water Act by requiring Ohio to adopt a program with mandatory controls on CAFOs and other major sources of runoff.


Manure Hauling Truck overturns: Bent Oak Highway, River Raisin Watershed

May 17, 2019

Daily Telegram Staff Writer, Dan Cherry 

ADRIAN TWP. — A truck hauling manure overturned on Bent Oak Highway just south of Hunt Road Tuesday.

Rescue crews were dispatched at 10:11 a.m. to the scene, according to Lenawee County Sheriff’s Office dispatch records on a report of a truck rollover. The southbound truck had overturned into the northbound lane, spilling hundreds of pounds of manure into the ditch on the east side of Bent Oak Highway.

Manure-hauling truck overturns, spills load 05.15.2019 - The Daily Telegram - Adrian, MI - Adrian, MI - Lenconnect.com article as pdf.



Manure spill turns portions of West Michigan trout stream ‘ink black’

March 22, 2019

MLive, March 21, 2019

FREEPORT, MI -- Aaron Snell was working to clear a log jam on the Coldwater River when he noticed the water turn murky, “really murky,” he said, “unusually so.”

He traveled about four miles upstream and found the source. The water had turned black from manure.

“By the time we found where it was coming from and entered Messer Brook, there was no visibility in the water. It was ink blank,” Snell said. “It was enough to turn the water black, which I can’t say that I’ve seen before.”

Brook View Dairy, a Holland-based multi-facility dairy business with a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) at 10560 Freeport Ave., is being investigated by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for the March 6 manure spill.

Regulators became aware of the spill after Snell found it two days later and reported it. At this time, the DEQ says there is no need for a “no water contact” advisory or fishing warnings.

Manure processed through the farm’s anaerobic digester was spread on fields March 6 about three miles east of Freeport. The ground, snow-covered and frozen, didn’t absorb it and the manure eventually ran into Messer Brook and then the Coldwater River.

The Coldwater River, which is a prized trout stream, feeds into the Thornapple River about three miles east of Caledonia.

“The DEQ received reports that portions of the Coldwater River and Messer Brook had turned black in color and had an odor," said Mike Worm, supervisor of the water quality unit for DEQ’s Grand Rapid district.

The recent incident is the dairy farm’s second spill into a tributary of the Coldwater River in just under a year. In April 2018, an estimated 5,000 and 10,000 gallons of liquid cow manure went into a tributary when a farm pipeline malfunctioned.


500,000 gallons of manure: Spill near Coldwater River marks second incident in past year

January 19, 2019

Large manure spill near Coldwater River marks second incident in past year / 1-17-19 

Christian Yonkers, Contributing Writer

Thu, Jan 17, 2019
A recent spill resulted in approximately 500,000 gallons of liquid manure released into surrounding fields and wetlands. An estimated 50,000-100,000 gallons leached into Tyler Creek, a tributary of the Coldwater River. This is the second significant agricultural waste leak in the area the the past year, the two locations represented by the map shown.

A recent manure spill marked the second significant agricultural waste spill in the Coldwater River Watershed in the past year. Saturday, Jan. 5, Swisslane Dairy in Alto self-reported a discharge from a defective valve near the border of Kent and Ionia counties. By the time the defective valve was shut off, an estimated 500,000 gallons of manure had leaked from the valve into the adjacent fields and a nearby wetland, 50,000-100,000 gallons of which made it to Tyler Creek.

Swisslane pumped 300,000-350,000 gallons from a contaminated wetland. The farm estimated reclaiming an additional 50,000 gallons from the above-ground flow path. The remaining 50,000-100,000 gallons were swept away into Tyler Creek, a tributary of the Coldwater River.

Despite the large volume of waste swept away into Tyler Creek, the incident is likely to have little impact on human and ecological health, said DEQ Senior Environmental Quality Analyst Melissa Sandborn.

“The release would have caused elevated levels of nutrients and E. coli in the receiving waters,” Sandborn said. “Due to recent weather conditions, there has been a high volume of water passing through Tyler Creek, particularly on the day of the discharge. As a result, the manure (and subsequently, nutrient and E. coli levels) was quickly diluted.”

Due to cold weather and high water levels, there is little chance that people could have come in contact with waste, Sandborn said. She confirmed the discharge has been stopped, and there is no evidence of an impending fish kill.

“This time of year, with the water being cold and most of the aquatic organisms … pretty inactive, there is probably no acute danger,” Aaron Snell, an independent environmental engineer with Streamside Ecological Services, said. “However, the nutrients, etc. associated with the manure … will persist in the system and can, many months later, fuel growth of plants and algae.”

If the spill occurred in the summer, a fish kill would have been likely, Snell said. A spill in 2006 killed nearly all fish in a 4 1/2-mile section of river.

The Swisslane spill marked the second major agricultural spill in the area in the past year. Up to 10,000 gallons of manure leached into the Coldwater in March 2018, just a few miles southeast of the Jan. 5 spill.

At this point, the DEQ has been focused on containment and clean-up. Sandborn said the case will be reviewed to determine what enforcement actions, such as fines, are appropriate.

In the meantime, Swisslane Dairy is responsible for clean-up efforts. As a part of the review of the case and potential enforcement actions, the DEQ will expect the farm to demonstrate and implement actions to prevent a future discharge.
[caption id="attachment_2720" align="alignleft" width="1024"] Swisslane Dairy Consent Order after 4 discharges - 03.30.2006                                                   Source: West Michigan Trout Unlimited, May/June 2006 Newsletter[/caption]




How to start the New Year off all wrong!

January 17, 2019

January 17, 2019 – Here’s what’s happening in Michigan’s Winter Wonderland.  Fluffy snow, lakes and ponds freezing over.  Used to be time for winter outdoor fun.  Not so much any more here, unless you like being slathered in livestock sewage.Bakerlad_20190117A

Putrid stench for miles around.  Bakerlads stockpiling manure on frozen, snow-covered ground. Besides what’s in the photo, there were 4 semi’s lined up to enter the field to dump solids at around 5 p.m. on January 17.  South side of Beecher Rd. between Hughes and Morey Hwys., Hudson Twp.  South Branch, Raisin River.  Major snow followed this crap-blizzard.

MSU’s Enviro Impact Tool says this about conditions here:

High risk of runoff from Jan. 18 through Jan. 24 on this chart

20190117CSoil temp at 2” depth <32


20190117BLooks like somebody needs some help finding the tool, or else this is flat-out sewage dumping.  Either way, it’s horrible for the environment.


Adrian, MI drinking water: 2nd positive cyanobacteria sample found, plus Bacteroides

December 31, 2018

December 31, 2018
Contact: Brittney Dulbs, 517.442.5294 brittney.dulbs@gmail.com
              Pam Taylor, 517.270.2419 ptaylor001@msn.com


Adrian, Michigan (Dec. 31, 2018) - The second batch of test results for cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) and one of the toxins it can produce, microcystin, taken from City of Adrian residents’ drinking water taps, is now available.  Of six taps tested, cyanobacteria was found at one site and Bacteroides1, an indicator of fecal contamination, was found at two sites.  No microcystin was found at any site.  This brings the total amount of positive cyanobacteria tests of the City’s tap water to 2 of 9, or a little over 22%, same for Bacteroides.

Taste and odor problems in Adrian’s drinking water have been reported for several years.  Adrian draws its drinking water from two sources:  Lake Adrian, created by damming Wolf Creek, and several drinking water wells.  Cyanobacteria, the blue-green algae that can produce the microcystin toxin that shut down Toledo’s drinking water system in 2014, and other bacteria are recurring problems in Lake Adrian.  Two compounds that are produced by cyanobacteria and algae when they die, geosmin and 2-MIB, were identified by City officials as a possible reason for the odor complaints.  Skin rashes and other symptoms associated with cyanotoxin exposure have also been reported.

Brittney Dulbs, one of the many Adrian residents who is still experiencing problems with her tap water, said she looks forward to sharing more information about the problems still happening in Adrian with Federal, State and local agencies and the City as soon as possible.  The City needs to provide safe, clean water.  More testing is needed, but the money from donations received has been used on the tests done so far, and there’s no more available for all the people who are still having problems but can’t afford to have their water tested.  She would also like to see more effort directed at cleaning up Wolf Creek, so that the City’s treatment system isn’t overwhelmed.

Because of limitations in other test methods and procedures, and because City of Adrian water users continue to experience taste, odor, and other problems into late December long after the harmful algae bloom on Lake Adrian stopped, molecular testing2 in the form of DNA analysis, using PCR, was used.  Samples to be tested for both cyanobacteria and microcystin from each tap were collected at the same time, because often one is present without the other.  If cyanobacteria is capable of producing microcystin, there is no way to know if, where, or when the toxin will be released.  Testing only for microcystin does not show if cyanobacteria is also present, and testing for only cyanobacteria doesn’t show the presence of microcystin.

Pam Taylor of Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan, a group that has been monitoring many of the area’s surface waterways for nearly 20 years, and found cyanobacteria and microcystin in Wolf Creek and its tributaries in 2017 and 2018, said, “This needs more investigation.  System-wide testing and a local epidemiological study would be helpful.  While cyanobacteria at low levels is naturally found in surface water, especially in the summer, levels are increasing here.  It should never be found in treated drinking water because scientists do not know what triggers some cyanobacteria into producing colorless, odorless, cyanotoxins like microcystin at the end of its life cycle.  Treated drinking water shouldn’t contain Bacteroides.  Maybe the City needs to upgrade its testing equipment.  Maybe an upgrade to add ozone or ultraviolet treatment is needed if they have to use Lake Adrian as a source, especially if they’re going to supply the new ProMedica hospital as well as existing customers.  Wolf Creek’s water quality is dismal and it needs to be cleaned up.  There are no safe drinking water standards and regulations for either cyanobacteria or the toxins it can produce, like microcystin, yet - only guidelines, recommendations, and a couple of reporting requirements.  It’s up to MDEQ and the City to make sure the distribution system doesn’t have low-level cyanobacteria contamination.  Public health needs to come first.”

Requests have been made of the City to publish its raw and finished water test results for both cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins.  Dulbs and Taylor would also like to see the City’s completed application to the State for the use of permanganate and the City’s contingency plan3 for cyanobacterial bloom occurrence including their monitoring program and their management and communication plan.

City officials and MDEQ were notified of the preliminary results on December 22, 2018, and the final reports were sent to the City, MDEQ, US EPA Region V, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on December 28.

1 Bacteroides (Fact Sheet). EMSL Analytical, Inc. https://www.emsl.com/Page.aspx?ID=434  and About the BEACH Act.  USEPA, https://www.epa.gov/beach-tech/about-beach-act

2,3 Cyanobacteria and Cyanotoxins:  Information for Drinking Water Systems.  USEPA, September, 2014. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/cyanobacteria_factsheet.pdf

Attachments:  Lab Results (2) Helix Biological Laboratory
Results of Testing Adrian MI Residents Tap Water Samples D and E (annotated) 121718 Collection Project P-473[12914]

Results of Testing Adrian MI Tap Water Samples 121918 Collection With Bacteroides (annotated) Project P-474[12912].docx-2


Adrian Water Press Release 12.30.2018


Tile Drainage contributes to Harmful Algal Blooms in Inland Lakes – OSU study

September 1, 2018

[caption id="attachment_2625" align="aligncenter" width="712"]Tile Drainage and Anthropogenic Land Use Contribute to Harmful Algal Blooms and Microbiota Shifts in Inland Water Bodies  - diagram of fecal loading impact Tile Drainage and Anthropogenic Land Use Contribute to Harmful Algal Blooms and Microbiota Shifts in Inland Water Bodies
Environ. Sci. Technol., 2018, 52 (15), pp 8215–8223
Publication Date (Web): June 28, 2018[/caption]

Algal blooms a threat to small lakes and ponds, too

August 23, 2018 by Misti Crane, The Ohio State University

Harmful algae isn't just a problem for high-profile bodies of water—it poses serious, toxic threats in small ponds and lakes as well, new research has found.

A team of researchers from The Ohio State University examined samples from two dozen ponds and small lakes in rural Ohio and found plenty of cause for concern, with particularly high levels of toxins at one lake.

Toxins from algae can cause skin rashes, intestinal problems and damage to the liver and nervous system. Fertilizers common to agriculture—including nitrogen and phosphorous—create an environment in which can flourish.

The researchers said that the way farmers manage runoff could play a significant role in creating water bodies that are ripe for harmful . A primary concern is , a widely used agricultural approach to removing excess water from the soil below the surface. That water—and the nutrients found in it—are rerouted, often toward ponds on farm property, said study co-author Seungjun Lee, a postdoctoral researcher in at Ohio State.

"A lot of people and government agencies are paying attention to larger lakes, including Lake Erie, but these smaller bodies of water are also used for recreation, fishing and irrigation," he said. 
The study was published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The research team, led by Ohio State's Jiyoung Lee, analyzed samples from the 24 bodies of water over a three-month period in late summer 2015.

Ten of the sites had detectable levels of microcystins, toxins produced by freshwater cyanobacteria during algal blooms.

One site had repeated instances of microcystin concentrations above recreational guidelines set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and so the research team paid particular attention to the samples from that site.

"Samples from this lake in early July were particularly concerning, as they contained four times the recommended amount of microcystin for recreational use and more than 800 times the recommended level for drinking," Seungjun Lee said.

A or lake with high toxin levels presents a risk to people, pets, farm animals, wildlife (including fish) and crops and could benefit from routine monitoring and work to lower the risk of algal blooms, he said. The researchers did not name the in question, because it is privately owned.

Jiyoung Lee said the impact of tile drainage may be elevated in small lakes and ponds, compared to larger lakes.

"Highly concentrated nutrients are being introduced into a smaller volume of water, making small lakes and ponds more sensitive to this influx of phosphorous, nitrogen and other nutrients," she said.

Nitrate and phosphorous are linked to the primary type of toxic microcystin found in the water. Judicious use of fertilizers could help control the algal blooms, as could measures to reduce animal waste contamination of ponds and lakes, Seungjun Lee said.

Though the study concentrated on Ohio agricultural areas, its findings likely apply to many areas throughout the U.S. and the world where agriculture and small lakes and ponds coexist, the researchers said.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2018-08-algal-blooms-threat-small-lakes.html#jCp


Attorney has ‘real faith’ tighter controls are in store for Lake Erie – Toledo Blade

August 22, 2018

Tom Henry, Toledo Blade

The lead attorney in a landmark western Lake Erie case told about 50 people attending a private function Wednesday night she has “real faith and confidence” the ultimate decision rendered by Senior U.S. District Judge James G. Carr — even with it now likely to come months or even a year or two later than expected — will be a turning point for addressing the lake’s chronic algal blooms.

“Political will is what we need here. But sometimes political will needs a little help from a judge, like an order,” Madeline Fleisher, senior attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said at an event the group hosted inside the National Museum of the Great Lakes in East Toledo.