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E-M:/ MSU Water Pollution Complaint

VIA Email

December 13, 2004

Ms. Megan McMahon
Lansing District - Water Bureau
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Lansing, MI

RE:   Water Pollution Complaint ? Discharge of Polluted Agricultural Wastewater Runoff by Michigan State University

Dear Ms. McMahon:

This is a written complaint made by the Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter concerning water pollution caused by Michigan State University at its farm facility south of campus.   This communication confirms by letter our telephone complaint to Barry Seldon, MDEQ Water Bureau on Friday and to you today.

On Friday, December 10, 2004 at about 5 PM and again on Saturday, December 11, 2004 about 11 AM, we observed polluted, highly turbid, ponded agricultural wastewater runoff entering a yellow tile inlet structure located on the east side of College Road immediately north of Jolly Road.   Based on a MSU drainage map, to the best of our knowledge this tile inlet structure conducts wastewater runoff to the Banta Drain which leads to Sycamore Creek and ultimately to the Grand River.

The pond of polluted agricultural wastewater runoff was located at the base of, and downgradient from, a field with an apparent extensive application of animal waste, litter and/or other animal production area waste.   This waste was laying on the surface of the field and had not been incorporated; it appeared that waste was laying on the surface right up to the edge of the ponded runoff area.   In addition, this non-incorporated waste was an attractive nuisance drawing hundreds of birds in a concentrated fashion to the site which would increase the pollution potential of the situation.

Our understanding is that you initiated a contact with MSU based on the telephone complaint and there was an acknowledgement by an MSU Land Management Office representative that the animal waste was applied a couple of week ago.   Failure to immediately incorporate an application of animal waste to a sloped field subject to wastewater runoff with an immediate transport path to surface waters of the United States through a tile inlet structure does not constitute a best management practice for control of agriculture-related nonpoint source pollution.

On Saturday, December 11, 2004 at about 11 AM, we obtained a sample of the agricultural wastewater runoff from this site at a location adjacent to the
tile inlet structure.   We have ordered analytical work for e-coli, total suspended solids, total phosphorus, TKN, ammonia, pH, nitrate and nitrite from Brighton Analytical, Inc.    We will share the report of this analytical work with you when we receive it.

Thank you for receiving and considering this water pollution complaint.   If you should have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (517)332-6971 or


                                                SIERRA CLUB MACKINAC CHAPTER
                                                Alexander J. Sagady,
                                                Environmental Consultant
                                                        109 East Grand River Ave.       
                                                Lansing, MI   48906

cc      Barry Selden, MDEQ Water Bureau - Enforcement
        Dave Soleberg, Ingham County Drain Commissio
        Arnold Leder, EPA Region V

Alex J. Sagady & Associates        http://www.sagady.com

Environmental Enforcement, Permit/Technical Review, Public Policy,
Evidence Review and Litigation Investigation on Air, Water and
Waste/Community Environmental and Resource Protection
Prospectus at:  http://www.sagady.com/sagady.pdf

PO Box 39,  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039 
(517) 332-6971; (517) 332-8987 (fax); ajs@sagady.com