The state Department of Natural Resources is responding to manure runoff affecting miles of creeks in the Malone and Mt. Calvary areas of Fond du Lac County.
The manure plume has reached the canoe launch at County CCC and the Sheboygan River where county health officials said signs will be posted warning recreationists to avoid contact with the water because of concerns about e-coli bacterial contamination.
Ben Uvaas, a DNR wastewater specialist who has been on the scene since Wednesday afternoon when manure was reported in an unnamed creek, said the responsible farm has initiated pumping activity in affected surface waters. However, the runoff was largely un-contained as of late Thursday morning, and the contamination is expected to spread downstream.
A fish kill has been observed in the Sheboygan River near County Road CCC. Dead fish, mainly minnow species, have also been observed in two smaller tributaries. Approximately 11.5 miles of stream have been affected. Clean-up activities will likely continue for days. The area involved straddles the towns of Taycheedah and Marshfield.
Uvaas said the Redtail Ridge Dairy, a DNR-permitted CAFO facility, had applied manure to several fields starting Friday and continuing through Monday. The area received heavy rain late Monday and manure ran off at least two fields, reaching nearby waterways. Dead fish were found in an unnamed stream at several road crossings, including Ledge Road, Valley Road and County W.
During this inspection a second runoff event was identified that resulted in surface water contamination and a fish kill.
Redtail Dairy has confirmed the farm spread manure to fields near County Road WH and that manure had run off these fields into surface waters. The dairy has contracted with a local septic pumper to collect manure laden water.
A review of local well drilling records indicates deep clay soils in the area, which help protect groundwater quality. Impacts to wells are not currently anticipated.
DNR staff from multiple programs are responding, including agricultural runoff, water quality, fisheries, and remediation and redevelopment. Fond du Lac county conservationist Paul Tollard is also taking part in the investigation.