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Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Farms fined over manure

By Nancy Allen
Two Mercer County farm operations have been fined in a local court and sent violation notices from the Ohio EPA after manure from their facilities got into the Wabash River in November.
They are LDT Keller Farms, LLC, 841 Burkettsville-St. Henry Road, Fort Recovery, whose president is Luke Keller, and Stateline Agri, Inc., 1031 state Route 29, Celina, whose president is Rick Kremer.
Keller Farms has been fined $1,500 in Celina Municipal Court for a charge of stream litter that was investigated on Nov. 28.
The EPA's violation letter says about 4,000 gallons of liquid dairy manure was pumped from a manure pit through a hose and aluminum pipe into a field at the farm. The pumping occurred at a heifer facility at state Route 118 and Watkins Road. The manure saturated the soil and got into a drainage tile, which carried the manure to the Wabash River.
The EPA letter, which says Keller indicated he might expand his 400-head dairy herd to the size requiring state and federal permits (700), asks Keller to make the following corrective actions:
• Immediately begin to learn and follow best management practices (BMPs) when handling and applying manure and work with the Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) to update BMPs for manure management that protect water quality.
• Attend a manure management workshop or training event.
• Develop and implement a spill prevention plan.
The letter also includes record-keeping forms to help manage manure and a brochure about an upcoming certified livestock manager training workshop.
Records from Celina Municipal Court show that Keller has prior stream litter violations from 1993 and 1998 that were leveled against him as an individual before LDT Keller Farms, LLC, was formed. He was fined $150 and court costs for the 1998 charge and paid a $250 bond for the 1993 charge, court records show.
The Ohio EPA on Nov. 30 investigated a complaint at Stateline Agri after swine manure from the operation got into a field tile and discharged into Crab Branch Creek and then into the Wabash River.
Stateline Agri has been fined $400 and costs for the stream litter charge in Celina Municipal Court.
The EPA violation letter says manure had been land applied the day before through a traveling gun irrigator to corn stubble fields. The liquid manure still was being applied when a county wildlife officer arrived to investigate a complaint of pollution, and it was raining at this time. Best management practices say to avoid applying manure immediately before or during rain because it is more prone to run off and pollute creeks and streams.
The farm's manure pond was inspected, and it was evident that the pond had been full and possibly overflowing before the manure was applied, the letter says.
The EPA asks Stateline Agri to make the following corrective actions:
• Develop and implement a manure management plan based on USDA practice standards by June 1 with the help of the Mercer SWCD, a consultant or other appropriate agency.
• Install a level indicator in the manure storage pond to record the manure level and check it weekly.
• Follow best management practices for the operation and management of manure and during manure application, and keep records of these practices.
The letter also lists a Web site address to access forms to record practices and enclosed information on an upcoming certified livestock manager training workshop in February.
Stateline Agri will not be required to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit as long as progress is made toward improving the facility and manure management, the letter states. If the facility continues to have manure violations, it could be designated as a medium Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and be required to obtain an NPDES permit.
Jerry Linn, a technician at the Mercer County SWCD office, said the office is working with both producers to correct manure management practices.
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