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Collapsed manure pit creates water safety concerns


By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Apr 19th, 2013
Posted in Canton Agriculture

A collapsed wall of a manure pit near Canton is the origin for 750,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of manure to have been spilled, potentially contaminating the water supply of local creeks. Photo by Mitchell Walbridge

Late on the evening of Sunday, April 14 a manure spill was reported in Fillmore County near the rural community of Canton. Between 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. the caller had reported that a fractured wall of an above-ground manure pit had collapsed, releasing gallons of manure, which then advanced around 500 to 700 feet down a basin to a road, allowing access to local creeks. Creeks affected by the spill include Donaldson Creek and Wisel Creek. Both eventually lead to the Root River.

The manure pit is reported to be nearly the size of a football field and is capable of holding a capacity of more than two million gallons of manure. The walls on the pit are about eleven feet tall.

While the name of the owner of the manure pit has not been released by the state, Regional Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Public Information Officer Cathy Rofshus stated that the dairy farm has 495 animal units and is capable of milking 300 cows per day. The MPCA estimates anywhere from 750,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of manure escaped the boundaries of the pit. All of the manure did not enter the Root River however. Much of it was recovered by cleanup crews as the PCA has been working with the land owner.

While a collapse is an uncommon occurrence, the odd spring weather poses flooding concerns and has made conditions difficult for farmers to spread manure on fields. Remaining frost in the ground prevents manure and even rain water from sinking into the ground.

The collapsed manure pit is only a couple of years old. It is expected to undergo repairs for continuing future operation. Department of Natural Resources fisheries supervisor Steve Klotz confirmed that a fish kill has not been discovered by field investigators so far; however, staff will be out taking water samples in the future and will continue to monitor the situation for any signs of concern.

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