Ohio EPA settles with manure applicator; urges farmers to know regulations

CELINA, Ohio — Eight Star Farms has agreed to pay Ohio EPA a $1,000 penalty for discharge of manure that killed more than 6,000 fish when the manure flowed off a Licking County farm field into a tributary of Lake Fork.

The farm, of Celina, also must pay more than $1,760 to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the fish kill. Hatfield 7 dairy, 6642 Bennington Chapel Road, Centerburg, hired Eight Star to remove liquid manure from a diluted storage pond and apply it on a nearby 135-acre corn stubble field.

The farm did so on April 7, 2008, at the estimated rate of 1,050 gallons per minute for a total of 13,000 gallons per acre. The next day, a manure spill in Lake Fork, a tributary of the North Fork Licking River, was reported to Ohio EPA and Hatfield 7 Dairy.

Inspectors from Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Livestock Environmental Permitting Program, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio EPA responded to the scene and discovered that a field tile in the road ditch on Drury Road was discharging manure into a tributary of Lake Fork.

Major leak

A hole in a transfer hose was believed to have leaked approximately 12,000 gallons of manure into the tile, ditch and stream. Attempts to plug the tile were unsuccessful. State inspectors concluded that the over application of manure caused the runoff and fish kill.

Field tests showed Lake Fork had elevated concentrations of ammonia and low levels of dissolved oxygen, creating conditions in which the fish could not survive. Excess nutrients also create nuisance growths of aquatic weeds and algae which can have detrimental impacts far downstream.

The state also determined that standard best management practices for surface application of liquid manure were not followed, including adjusting application rates to avoid ponding and surface runoff, setbacks from grassed waterways and monitoring fields during and after application for runoff or subsurface drainage.

Do it right

According to the EPA, incidents like this can be prevented when agricultural producers learn about the regulations and best management practices for manure management. An abundance of information is available to assist producers with manure management. Some programs offer financial assistance.

Technical assistance is available from the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Natural Resources Conservation Service and The Ohio State University Extension Service, for developing conservation plans, including best management practices for nutrient management, manure management, and practices to minimize impacts to water quality, while improving crop and livestock production.

More tools

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program offers the opportunity for financial assistance for installation and implementation of best management practices.

Several of the Lake Erie and Mississippi River basin local grant opportunities include implementation incentives to encourage new best management practices.

For more information on manure management or agricultural best management practices, contact the ODA Livestock Environmental Permitting Program at 614-387- 0470 or lepp@agri.ohio.gov or a local soil and water conservation district.

To report a spill, contact the 24-hour Ohio EPA hotline, 800-282-9378.

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