Stench Alerts 2018
The Grinch Comes to Lenawee County
Many Grinches, spreading their Christmas manure all over the place.
Manure dump box on Schaffner property, ready to go, for liquid manure dragline operation, north side of M-34 just west of Morey Hwy. Hmm, no crop in the field so nothing to fertilize except Lake Erie (Stony Creek/Raisin)
Part 2, farther down the road, Hoffland draglining with incorporation just east of Morey Hwy. on Tomer Rd. (Stony Creek/Raisin). Note the frozen puddles in the field. Nothing to fertilize on this field.
Rice Lake Drain is immediately downstream of the Hoffland application above. Poor Rice Lake Drain – it has two colors: Harmful Algae Green and Manure Brown. (Stony Creek/Raisin)
Here’s what MSU’s Enviroimpact Tool has to say about all of the fields above.
Temps <32 degrees F at 4” depth, high risk of runoff today and for the next few days. Liquid manure applications, incorporated or injected onto tiled fields like these, go immediately down in to the subsurface tile drainage system.
The Grinches are busy today, extra stinky solids application from Legend Dairy at Seneca Hwy. and Mulberry Rd. This one rates a +10 for about a 2-mile radius on the Stench-O-Meter. (Silver Creek/Bean/Tiffin)
Here’s what MSU’s Enviroimpact has to say about the area where these fields are located. Soil temp. <32 deg. F at 4” depth, high runoff risk for the next few days.
Predicted warmup coming.
Merry Christmas, Lake Erie!
FINALLY! October 31, 2018
After 5 years under a Consent Order, Terrehaven Farms (Hunt Rd., Black Creek/Wolf Creek/Raisin) finally removes one of its many trouble spots!
Long-time viewers will remember runoff incidents to Pineview Dr. residents’ yards (to the east) in 2014 and 2015, pictured here. Red arrows show the source of the runoff coming from the Terrehaven barns and flowing into neighbors’ yards. This farm sites at the edge of the City of Adrian, just upstream of its drinking water reservoir, Lake Adrian.
Here’s an aerial view of the farm, taken in April of 2016. The circle shows the beginning of the runoff pictured in the ground view above, and the arrows show the barns that were the source of much of it. Runoff flows towards the bottom of the picture, into the yards of homes on Pineview Drive as shown above. You can actually see the path it has taken over the years in the photo below. (Yes, that big brown pile is a huge manure pile. Adrian’s Mt. Manure.) Terrehaven’s Administrative Consent Order (from the State of Michigan) mandated that this issue be corrected in 2013 …
… and in 2018, five years later, it was! Below is a ground photo taken 10.31.2018, front round barn has been removed, all that’s left is the concrete pad, and animals removed from the pen behind the silos.
While a multitude of other problems remain at this facility, this is a good first step. But one question remains - what would the consequences be if others chose to continue to violate a Court Order for 5 years?...
October 31, 2018
Overwhelmed by a deluge
Not just rain. Manure. The worst yet, all at once. Confined livestock facilities store their waste in stockpiles, open cesspits (“lagoons”) to which millions of gallons of clean groundwater are added to make it easier to store and pump through application equipment, or in pits underneath the slatted floors of hog barns. In Michigan, these storage facilities at NPDES CAFO-permitted farms must have the capacity for 6 months’ worth of storage each December. That means that they need to be emptied in late fall, so they have enough room to get them through the winter.
And it means they have to get those lagoons and pits emptied in the spring for two reasons – they’re full and they don’t want overflows, and they need to get that waste on the field before planting in April and May if they are using it as fertilizer for corn or soy beans.
But this past spring was different. Because of the timing of heavy rains last spring, manure farmers out here in the tributaries of the Raisin and Bean/Tiffin/Maumee never got the chance to empty their stored manure from this past winter, as planned in their nutrient management plans. Based on the frequent and what appeared to be plentiful waste applications on wheat stubble and hay fields these manure farmers played catch-up all summer. Nutrient management plans? Out the window.
Here we are in the fall, and it is raining once again and the farmers are still likely trying to get rid of last spring’s manure and what has accumulated over the summer. ECCSCM made the rounds yesterday, in between the rain with 1” predicted, and reports that we have never seen this much manure and so much water in the fields, ever. There were at least 3 spots where we believe, had we had the time and personnel, we possibly could have found manure or milkhouse waste discharges easily as bad as the one that occurred on Morey Hwy. (by Hartland Farms) on August 15, 2018.
We are awash in manure out here in the headwaters of the WLEB right now, like the dam has broken. It is too much, worse than ever, and it is moving downstream. The stench from the manure and silage around these barns and their manure application fields, some of which are more than 30 miles away, is awful. Despite what the experts’ models say, the highest levels of orthophosphate out here in the headwater tributaries happen in the fall, not during snowmelt in the spring. All of the manure that didn’t get applied in early spring is being applied right now, adding to the already-high normal amount, and coming to Lake Erie in time for next year’s algae blooms.
Here are a few photos:
Hartland Farms solids application ponding on corn stubble, south side of Beecher Rd. just east of Dowling Hwy. (Bean/Tiffin/Maumee).
Hundreds more just like this everywhere in the WLEB tribs right now, all going straight down to the tiles and out into the surface water. It doesn’t stop in the soil (even if it’s “mixed”, injected or incorporated), just cesspool waste straight to the waterways – with over 1” of rain predicted to come
October 5, 2018
Massive stench alert, liquid dragline manure application on New Flevo/Waterlands fields on the north side of M34 between Sword and Whig Hwys., Dover Township. Field isn’t finished yet, even with incorporation it still stinks. This is gonna be miserable for the neighbors for a while. Since most of these farms didn’t have a chance to completely empty the lagoons of manure stored over last winter, they’re just getting to the last of it now. What will all this extra, applied this fall instead of last spring up here in the headwaters, mean for Lake Erie next spring?
October 5, 2018
Bakerlads Farm, Clayton, MI. South Branch, Raisin watershed. This farm installed a “constructed wetland” over 10 years ago, designed to filter CAFO waste from the facility through wetlands plants in a 2-chambered pond. This naturally-filtered water was then piped from the pond directly through connected subsurface drain/irrigation tiles into the South Branch of the Raisin. A gate valve system (drainwater management structure) controls the flow of water from the subsurface tiles.
Here’s the Google Earth satellite photo from June, 2013, showing the two chambers, the surrounding wetlands plants, and the vegetation in the center between the two chambers. The stream just to the right of the “wetlands”, running from the bottom to the top of the photo, is a tributary of the South Branch, Raisin.
And here’s the same “constructed wetland”, aerial photo taken on July 14, 2018 by ECCSCM/Lighthawk.
Questions, questions, questions. Is the south end of the “constructed wetland” (A above) overgrown with phragmites? Where are the “wetlands” plants? Has the center of the “wetlands” pond (B above) washed out? Is the system still working, or is this now just another waste lagoon, except connected directly to subsurface tiles? What becomes of the broken “wetlands”?
Because … liquid manure was applied to this Bakerlads field, east side of Morey Hwy. between Beecher and Cadmus Rds. This field surrounds the “constructed wetlands” pictured above, shown in the photo below between the corn stubble and the car in the picture. The tree line at the top of the picture is the South Branch of the Raisin. Will the ponded liquid manure be incorporated within 24 hours, before it rains? Will it run off the surface? Will it run into the “constructed wetland”? What crop is being fertilized?
Gate valve that controls the subsurface flow of water from the “constructed wetland” pictured below. Liquid manure application very close to it. What about setbacks? What do the NPDES CAFO permit and the nutrient management plan say?
October 5, 2018
As soon as the crops come off of the fields in the fall, manure farmers race to get their manure cesspits emptied so they have enough room for winter storage. Because of the heavy rains earlier this year, many never were able to empty the winter contents of these cesspits earlier in the spring, so they’ve been doing it when they can during the summer. Sometimes wheat stubble and hay fields caught an extra application here and there, despite what was called for in their nutrient management plans.
Waterland-New Flevo field, north side of M34 between Whig and Sword Highways, Dover Twp., Michigan. South Branch, Raisin watershed. Big field, liquid manure application. Even though the liquid manure was incorporated (mixed into the top few inches of soil), it will stink for days.
October 5, 2018
Marvin Farms, corner of Beecher Rd. and M34/Benner Hwy. in Dover Twp. This is a dairy CAFO that does not need a NPDES CAFO permit because they don’t confine enough animals. All livestock farms in Michigan, if they wish to be protected by Michigan’s Right-to-Farm Laws, must abide by the voluntary guidelines known as GAAMPs (Generally Accepted Agricultural and Management Principles).
Those guidelines say (p. 23): “Liquid manures should not be applied in a manner that will result in ponding or runoff to adjacent property, drainage ditches, or surface water. Therefore, application to saturated soils, such as during or after a rainfall, should be avoided.” National Weather Service forecast (which farms are supposed to use) predicts a 100% chance of between ½ and 1 inch of rain in the next 48 hours, so today is the beginning of a stretch of predicted rain. This manure application from Marvin’s lagoon was happening during light rain/heavier showers around 10:30 a.m. (Raindrops on camera lens.)
Photos below are from a pivot irrigator manure application from the farm’s lagoon, during steady rain on the morning of 10.5.2018.
MDEQ issued a Compliance Communication dated 9.5.2018, describing a tile riser at the northeastern edge of the field and instructing Hartland as follows: “The tile riser collects surface runoff from a large portion of field 60 and will need to be monitored as required in NPDES Permit No. MI0057536 during all future applications of CAFO waste to the field."
August 15, 2018
Confirmed manure discharge. MDEQ did a site investigation; we are waiting for their final report. Morey Hwy., just north of Beecher Rd., Clayton, MI. Tributary to S. Branch/Raisin River. Downstream of manure application field on Beecher Rd., just west of Morey Hwy., Clayton- MI on 8/9 – 8/14, 2018, which is one potential source.
Sample taken to lab for E. coli analysis, result was 100,100/100mL. For reference, public beaches are closed when E. coli levels reach 130/100mL, and partial body contact is not recommended when levels are above 1,000/100mL. This stream is part of a 2008 E. coli TMDL, which means the maximum E. coli present should be no more than 130/100mL (30-day mean) or 300/100mL (daily). On 8.15.2018, it was more than 300 times the allowable limit of 300/100mL for one day. This is especially dangerous, because this branch of the Raisin is a source of drinking water for Blissfield and Deerfield downstream.
The sample was dark brown/gray in color, opaque, greasy, smelled of manure, and faintly of diesel fuel (sometimes used to prevent foaming in the dump box and for lubrication of the pumping equipment).
- Temperature was 83.2 deg. F
- DO was 2.88 mg/L
- Phosphate >50, then turned dark gray
- Nitrite >3.0
- Nitrate – strip turned brown
- Ammonia > 6.0
Sample collected immediately upstream was relatively clear (some particulates), no smell or visual evidence of manure....
August 14, 2018
Beecher Rd., just west of Morey Hwy – Clayton, MI. Hartland/Briskey manure application that started on August 9 continues. All day, tankers come and go, lining up to empty into the dump box above. (Black box to protect worker identity.) Field includes tributary to S. Branch, River Raisin (tree line in back of photo). Liquid manure from dump box is pumped into the dragline, which is connected to the tractor where application sprays it onto the field, as shown below.
No calibration, no carefully controlled application rate. Again – spewing untreated sewage on no crop. Another tractor followed behind this, incorporating as much as possible into the soil. Where will all of this end up? Stay tuned …...
August 9, 2018
Waterland/New Flevo/Briskey liquid manure application on wheat stubble, NW corner of Gilbert Hwy. and Reed Rd., Cambridge Township. This is their third application on this field (July 16 and 17, liquid manure sprayed by tanker; July 26 slurry application from dump semi; Aug. 8 and 9 application, liquid again – see photos in previous stench alerts). The tree line at the back of the photo is Wolf Creek, the source of the City of Adrian’s drinking water reservoir, Lake Adrian. Tell us, please – what is the proper agronomic rate for repeated heavy manure applications within one month on “no crop”? Can’t find it in the Tri State Fertilizer Recommendations, can’t find it in the comprehensive nutrient management plan.
Then there’s the mess left behind. If you drive on our rural roads, make sure to wash your car afterwards because the stink on the undercarriage and tires lasts for a long time. Bridge on Gilbert Hwy., over Wolf Creek. NW corner of Gilbert Hwy. and Reed Rd., Cambridge Twp., next to the field shown above.
Remember this, from the 7.16.2018 Stench Alert? Just a few days after tankers sprayed manure all over this wheat stubble field on 7.16.2018, Briskey/New Flevo/Waterland is slathering slurry on the very same field.
Liquid manure on wheat stubble, field lies between Burton Rd. and US 223, just west of Springville Hwy. Can smell it 2 miles away. Again we ask – what crop is being fertilized here? (S. Branch/Raisin watershed)
Hartland liquid manure from dragline, no applicator, spewing livestock sewage all out onto this newly-disked field. Carefully calibrated agronomic rate? SE corner of Beecher Rd. and Hughes Hwy. Another smelly day, and it’s going to get much worse here as draglines are laid out in fields all around. (Bear Cr./Raisin watershed)
Recent liquid manure application on alfalfa hay field on the north side of Tomer Rd., near Lake Hudson. This hay is fed to dairy and beef cattle, horses, sheep, and other livestock.
Not all manure applications are liquid. Sometimes dry solids are applied, sometimes manure is dredged from the lagoons, put into dump-trailers, and hauled by tractor or semi to a field where it is dumped, or stockpiled, in one place. Equipment is then used to push it around, spread it out over the field. Below is a series of pictures of just such an application on the north side of Woerner Rd., between Gilbert and Springville Hwys. (S. Branch/Raisin watershed)
First, we follow the manure slurry trail, spilled from the dump trailer. (Hint: Run your car through the car wash if you get behind one of these things, otherwise the manure on your tires will stink for a while.) Dust cloud is the semi.
Then, drive around on it a bit or spread it out somehow. In this photo, tractor operator was driving around in circles on top of the sludge. Carefully calibrated agronomic rate? For fertilizing what crop, exactly?
Tractor stands by with chisel plow, waiting to incorporate the sewage blanket into the soil. One semi (red in the dust cloud, right) is dumping its load, the next one (at the right edge) is getting ready. Smells really, really bad.
Hazy, warm days, people outdoors working, playing, enjoying Michigan’s beautiful summer weather and our many lakes. Except for these poor friends and neighbors. Manure injection application from dragline on wheat stubble, NW corner of Posey Lk. Hwy. and Beecher Rd., Bean/Tiffin/Maumee watershed.
Injection places liquid manure beneath the surface of the ground, close to the perforations in drain tiles buried under a field. Quicker access to the drain tile means that manure moves more quickly into ditches, streams, creeks, rivers. Think of it as “manure mainlining”. Drain tiles, mostly unmapped, are buried beneath 60% of the farm fields in the WLEB, and in our area it isn’t unusual to see 100 miles of drain tile buried beneath each one square mile of farm field. As much as 80% of the harmful-algae-bloom causing dissolved phosphorus is transported through drain tiles.
The green hose behind the manure applicator is a dragline. It snakes across the field back to the dump box, where it is fed by tanker after tanker hauling liquid manure. You can see the dump box (looks like a rail freight car) and a tanker unloading into it here. Does it stink? Yep. Untreated sewage is still untreated sewage. What crop is being fertilized here?
Notes from the Field July 17, 2018
ECCSCM was monitoring the water around CAFO sites and streams impacted by known CAFO waste application fields, Tuesday, July 17, 2017. We're still waiting for remainder of the lab results; when we get them we'll post a summary report.
Here are a few highlights lowlights.
Tributary to Lime Creek, Ingall Hwy. Bean/Tiffin/Maumee. Duckweed so thick you can't see the water underneath, accompanied by algal scum on surface. Sample was lime-green in color. E. coli count was 21000/100mL; public beaches are closed for swimming at 130/100mL, partial body contact not recommended when levels are above 1000/100mL. High orthophosphate and ammonia.
Below is the sample pulled from the Lime Creek tributary above. It was lime-green.
Stay tuned . . . more to come!
July 17, 2018
Massive, multiple-day Hudson Dairy-Briskey dragline manure application onto huge harvested wheat field, many tankers one after another filling the dump box, east side of U.S. 127 south of Culbert Rd. (Black boxes to protect privacy of workers.) Foul air for days after an application like this on a huge field. What crop are they fertilizing?
Tankers backed up to the dump box, ready to fill with more livestock sewage.
Another high-level Stench Event! July 16, 2018
New Flevo/Waterland, tanker liquid manure application on cut wheat, NE corner of Gilbert Hwy. and Reed Rd., adjacent to Wolf Creek (the tree line at the back of the field, Loch Erin to the right of the photo) as it leaves Loch Erin. Wolf Creek is a source of the City of Adrian’s drinking water. Application took place over several days, stinking up the air for several miles around.
Liquid manure application spray from rear of tanker (see arrow).
Another 9 on the Stenchometer! July 9, 2018
Zero-to-ten scale, this one is a solid 9. Both in duration – it’s a big field and the application itself took several days and the stench lingered for several days afterward – and eyewatering, headache-inducing, gut-wrenching stench level. Liquid manure application over cut wheat, NW corner of Gilbert Hwy. and Woerner Rd. Wolf Creek/S. Branch/Raisin watershed. Exactly what crop is being fertilized here?
Smelly Weekend for Posey Lake Residents? June 14, 2018
Stinky dragline application of liquid manure, ponding in field at NW corner of Rollin Hwy. and Beecher Rd., just across the road from the west side of Posey Lake (Bean/Tiffin/Maumee watershed). Looks kinda like chocolate frosting, doesn’t it?
Hint: It doesn’t smell like chocolate frosting.
Location: 1 mile southwest of Hudson Dairy and one mile southeast of White's swine CAFO. Gentle north winds continue to drag a nasty stench over Lime Lake. An outdoor dinner needed to be relocated on Tuesday and on Thursday closed windows were the only option....
Strong and foul emissions near Lime Lake on May 20, 2018
Location: Lime Lake - Southwest of Hudson Dairy.
Type of Observation: Stench/Odor Comments: Wind blowing from the northeast resulting in a strong, toxic smelling emissions. Keeping the windows closed most on the day a necessity. Getting much stronger near dusk.
Spring returns to South Central Michigan. Grass grows, trees are leafing, and beautiful flowers bring us their sweet fragrance. But that’s not the only thing we smell. Come along as we follow the stench on this very stinky Royal Wedding weekend.
May 19, 2018– Halliwill/New Flevo/Van Brunt manure and compost stockpile on Forrister Rd. Heavy consistent rain in this area and no containment means repeated runoff onto the roadway and into the ditch throughout the year. This is an on-going problem at this location.
May 19, 2018– First clue = the stench. Second clue = a hose, called a manure dragline, used to carry liquid manure from a lagoon or dumpbox to the application equipment. Here you see a black dragline at the top center, going towards the left of the picture. But where is it going? Follow the stench and the dragline, see photo below.
May 19, 2018– The black dragline hose (from photo directly above) is connected to the yellow dragline hose, the yellow hose is connected to the applicator, and the applicator is connected to the tractor. (Hmm, that sounds like it could be a song.) Simple to find, you don’t need stacks of research papers, fancy scientific models, or high tech equipment. Just need noses and eyes. This field is in New Flevo’s nutrient management plan. Water is ponding in the field. Running heavy farm equipment over saturated soil compacts it, which is a bad thing. Applying liquid manure to saturated soil is even worse, because it just goes down into the drain tile or runs off the field.
May 19, 2018– Another clue! Dragline on Haley Rd., across from Hoffland facility. Where is it coming from?
May 19, 2018– It’s coming from this. Pipeline runs underground, from the manure lagoon, under the road, to this connection point. The other end of the dragline is connected to the manure application equipment. Haley Rd., just across from Hoffland CAFO.
19, 2018– Terrehaven pen (behind silos). Fence panels missing, manure piling up outside of containment area, just before the corner of the pen. This CAFO has been under a Consent Order since Nov. 6, 2013.
May 19, 2018– Terrehaven back barns. Are those manure piles outside of the containment bunkers? (We have winter pictures of brown piles here.) Is that green vegetation growing on those piles? We hope this is simply a mirage, or some approved containment structure, and not a permit violation.
May 19, 2018– What IS this? Where does the white pipe (coming up out of the ground) come from, and why does it discharge into that catch basin/pumping station? Elton Rd., south of Warner medium CAFO. Medium CAFO by definition, but under MI rules not required to get a permit.
May 19, 2018– Path of runoff from Warner silage pile, Elton Rd., off of site.
May 19, 2018– Standing water on Elton Rd., directly across from Warner barns, where drain pipe (now buried) from site discharged.
New Flevo's annual gift to Devil's Lake residents
April 24, 2018 - Dragline manure application, south side of Manitou Rd. at Townley Hwy.
Feb. 19, 2018– Warner (medium, unpermitted) CAFO, east side of Pentecost. Manure application on snow; manure runs off when snow melts because the ground and any cover crops underneath are still frozen.
Feb. 19, 2018– Halliwill/New Flevo/Van Brunt manure and compost stockpile on Forrister Rd. Melting snow and no containment cause manure to run off into the road and roadside ditch, carrying manure-laden water to the South Branch of the Raisin. This is a frequent problem at this site.