Two feet high and rising

“How high’s the water, mama?
Two feet high and rising
How high’s the water, papa?
Two feet high and rising”
—- from “Five Feet High and Rising”, written and recorded by Johnny Cash

Wait … he’s just talking about rain water.

When it gets deep here, we’re not just talking rain water, as ECCSCM’s DNA tests of stream samples continue to show.

Up here in the headwaters of the Maumee and Raisin, in Michigan’s portion of the WLEB, we’ve had epic rains this year, starting in early spring, and there’s no sign that they’re going to be stopping. Regardless, the dumping of untreated livestock sewage on weed fields (what’s the agronomic rate for fertilizer on weeds?), bare fields (agronomic rate for fertilizer on dirt? Anyone? Anyone?), fields with cover crops (seriously? why?), and, occasionally, fields with cash crops goes on, just exactly like it does every year. No change.

Photos below taken after we got 2.5″ of rain over 3 days. Warm and muggy. If the stench in the air had a color, it would be brown fog with zero visibility around these farms.

We start our tour behind Hartland Farms’ lagoons, at this manure application field on Henning Hwy.  This field is located in the South Branch, Raisin, TMDL area.  This stream, which begins in this field, is an unnamed tributary to the South Branch of the Raisin and is under an E. coli TMDL.  It is not a county drain.  July tests showed E. coli in excess of the TMDL; high orthophosphate, high nitrates, high ammonia, Cyanobacteria-microcystis, the cyanotoxins microcystin and anatoxin, and cattle DNA (Bacteroides).  
Hmmm, was a permit pulled before this stream was dredged?
Next, we move southeast to check on one of the experts’ most recommended best management practices for controlling nutrient runoff that contributes to Harmful Algae Blooms, the 2-stage (or is it 3-stage?  4-stage?  1-stage?  Who can tell?) ditch.  The idea is that the “shoulders” in the lower part of the ditch, where it is narrower, will catch the nutrients running off the side of the field after it rains, and keep them from moving downstream.  Huh?  Just your typical flooded ditch when this photo was taken.
Heading north, we come to the Van Brunt CAFO Con-post pile.  See our Stench Alerts from May 31 (“What the Birdie Sees”), May 2018, etc.  Finally, after years of ECCSCM reporting, MDEGLE issued a violation notice, ordering Van Brunt to submit the following by May 31: 
    1. A plan to stop any immediate discharges of compost wastewater to the field tile riser.
    2. A timeline for when any physical changes will be completed at the composting site. The timeline should be designed in such a way that all physical changes are completed before December 1, 2019.
    3. An explanation of what physical or management changes will be made at the site to reduce, control, store or re-use compost wastewater generated at the site.
Nope, swapping a standpipe for a perforated tile riser isn’t going to change anything.  Still big piles of cowsh*t, still running off.  Quick check of MDEGLE’s MIWaters database for this operation shows none of the documents that were ordered to be submitted by May 31.  What’s the holdup?
 Finally, we move to another dragline operation, either interrupted by the rain or all set up and ready to go.  Maybe both.
Starting at Hoffland’s lagoon on Wheeler Hwy. north of Haley Rd.  (Bear Creek/South Branch/Raisin)  Here’s the big pump, pumping it from the lagoon through the dragline hose, underground through a tile that goes south to Haley Road.
Hoffland pumping equipment from lagoon 2 10.3.2019
At the south side of Haley Rd., it surfaces and snakes back and forth through the ponded water to Wheeler Hwy., south of Haley Rd.
Hoffland Dairy dragline underneath Wheeler Hwy 10.3.2019
The dragline is threaded through the culvert under Wheeler Hwy., where it comes out on the east side and is connected to this pump setup, east side of Wheeler, south of Haley Rd.
Hoffland dragline pump setup east side of Wheeler south of Haley, 10.3.2019And for good measure, here’s another tractor, with the dragline connected, same source.  Southwest corner of Haley Rd. and Wheeler Hwy.  It’s a two-fer!
Hoffland SE corner of M-156 and Haley 10.3.2019Even if it were five feet high and rising, the manure must go on.   As soon as the ground is dry enough so that the equipment doesn’t get stuck, they’ll be at it non-stop.  It’ll sit up here in the little tribs until the next big rain comes and flushes it all down to Lake Erie.

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