Manure Disaster Toll Continues
Dissolved Oxygen Dead zones and E.coli at 35 times Maximum Exposure Limits
During the past two weeks, the grim fallacy of the Engler/Harding/Wyant administration's laisez faire approach to industrial livestock operations has borne a sickening fruit of manure, silage and milkhouse wastes in segments of virtually every waterway in the vicinity of Morenci and Hudson in south central Michigan.
Thanks once again to the dedicated volunteers of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of South Central Michigan (ECCSCM) we now can see the objective measures of this disaster: dead zone Dissolved Oxygen levels in three test sites out of eleven, and eight testing sites yielding E.coli levels over the state's maximum levels for any body contact, including two sites testing at more than 35 times the state's maximum exposure level. (see results from 3/18/03 below) In addition to testing, volunteers are helping the DEQ staff locate the discharge sites, including going out on discharge sites at midnight and 4 in the morning, because these folks have spent hundreds of hours monitoring this unfolding disaster. When Michigan's manure hangover is finally gone, these will be the heroes and heroines we will need to honor for their untiring work!
Disaster Continues as Agencies scramble for quick solution
Six of the 10 CAFOs in this area are believed to have had illegal discharges during this time, with some facilities having racked up multiple violations by themselves. But the disaster was still not over as of Wednesday night at least, and we await further reports on one site in particular. On the 16th, I reported a temporary dam at one facility, the Vreba Hoff 2 Dairy, was said to be holding back MILLIONS of gallons of water contaminated with urine, feces, and other wastes. While in the short-term the dam helped prevent discharging huge amounts of more pathogen laden wastes directly to the surrounding streams and drains, the disposal of this massive amount of polluted water in a saturated countryside posed an enormous problem. In addition, predicted rainfall of up to three inches by the end of the week meant that the temporary dam could well be overwhelmed.
Reportedly the owners were planning to pump the waste onto tanker trucks (200 loads on tanker trucks) and drive the waste into Ohio and spread them onto soggy soils there. Fortunately, collective action by Michigan's DEQ, the USEPA and Ohio EPA apparently quashed that ill-advised plan. As of yesterday it was expected that at least some of the wastes would be pumped out and taken to the lagoon of Vreba Hoff 1 Dairy for storage. We are still waiting anxiously to hear whether the stop gap measures prevented added catastrophe to the devastation already in place.
Test results below provided by ECCSCM volunteers Kathy Melmoth and Janet Kauffman:
March 18th report on Dissolved Oxygen (DO) readings. Note that DO should be above 5 mg/L, and below 3 mg/L life cannot be sustained:
Several sites today had extremely low Dissolved Oxygen, dead zone levels. Durfee Creek Extension, at 0.7 mg/L, was as low as the worst we saw last year, during silage leachate discharges.
1) #31 Durfee Creek Extension, south of Vreba-Hoff 1, on Dillion Hwy -- DO was 0.7mg/L
(last week this site had DO of 12.1)
2) #21 South Medina Drain, east of Vreba-Hoff 1, on Ingall Hwy -- DO was 1.8 mg/L
3) #22 Bear Creek at Beecher Rd--DO was 2.5 mg/L
Full list of sites, DO:
Lime Lake Inlet East, Lime Lake Rd -- 5.0
Lime Lake Inlet, Tamarack pipe -- 9.0
Branch 2 Siegel Drain, Tamarack Rd -- 5.6
Goose Creek, Prattville Rd -- 6.8
Toad Creek, Coman Rd -- 8.2
Durfee Creek Extension, Dillon Hwy -- 0.7
South Medina Drain, Ingall Hwy -- 1.8
Bothwell Drain, Bothwell Rd -- 4.4
Rice Lake Drain, Haley Rd -- 8.3
Henning Drain, Hughes Hwy -- 7.6
Bear Creek, Beecher Rd -- 2.5
March 18th E.coli test results. Ideally, water has NO E.coli bacteria in it, but the state sets maximum acceptable levels for full body contact (swimming) at 300 units per 100 mL, and maximum acceptable levels for partial body contact at 1000 units per 100mL. Test results provided by a certified laboratory:
#16 Toad Creek Coman Rd 99
#19 Rice Lake Drain Haley Rd 6930
#21 S. Medina Drain Ingall Hwy 37,620
#22 Bear Creek Beecher Rd 1782
#25 Lime Lk Inlet East Lime Lk Rd 25,740
#28-A Lime Lk Inlet-pipe Tamarack Rd 35,640
#31 Durfee Crk Extension Dillon Hwy 1683
#42 Henning Drain-Southerlands Hughes Hwy 891
#59 Branch 2 Siegel Drain Tamarack Rd 792
#60-s Goose Creek-spilled Prattville Rd 1188
#60 Goose Creek Prattville Rd 1386
#61 Bothwell Drain S of Packard Bothwell Rd 594
Complete results for the testing done by ECCSCM since August 2001 are found on the website, www.nocafos.org .