Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972
A Pipestone County dairy has agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty after a May 5 manure spill resulted in a fish kill and the temporary closing of a public swimming beach.
The spill at Pater Dairy, about seven miles south of Pipestone, occurred when a pipe between two manure storage basins became plugged, causing about 252,000 gallons of manure-contaminated water to overflow. Manure entered a nearby tributary of Split Rock Creek, which feeds a swimming area at Split Rock Creek State Park.
After the spill was reported to state authorities on May 13 and inspected by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on May 14, the dairy owner used bales, earthen berms and pumps to contain and recover as much of the contamination as possible. On May 21, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources temporarily closed the Split Rock Creek State Park swimming beach after water samples showed high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.
The incident also revealed that the 660-head dairy included a nearby dry cow feedlot, which increased the total number of animal units beyond the threshold for requiring state and federal operating permits for large feedlots. The dairy has 60 days to decide whether to seek a permit or reduce animal numbers. The requirement for an emergency response plan has already been completed.
The MPCA regulates the collection, transportation, storage, processing and disposal of animal manure, and provides assistance to counties and the livestock industry. More information about feedlot regulation and assistance is available on the MPCA Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us.
A stipulation agreement such as this is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to the appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, go to the agency Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/newscenter/enforcement.html.