Millions of Gallons of Dairy Cow Manure Flow into Washington's Snohomish River

From all-creatures.org
Environmental Articles Archive

Vegan - Vegetarian - Human Rights - Animal Rights - People - Animals - Love - Compassion - Peace - Justice - Righteousness - God - Bible - Jewish - Christian - Jesus - Christ - Holy Spirit - Soul - Spirit - Wisdom - Knowledge - Environment

Millions of Gallons of Dairy Cow Manure Flow into Washington's Snohomish River

From SeattleTimes.NWSource.com

While there is no threat to drinking water, the state Department of Health is warning people to avoid contact with water in French Slough and the Snohomish River, which both show signs of contamination, Kelly said. Cow manure is likely to contain E. coli bacteria, which can make people ill, with symptoms — including diarrhea, vomiting and fever — appearing within hours or days after infection.

A 21 million-gallon manure lagoon at a dairy farm outside Snohomish recently suffered a "catastrophic" breach, releasing an unknown amount of manure into fields and filtering it into French Slough and the Snohomish River, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

The lagoon, at Bartelheimer Brothers Dairy, was filled almost to capacity when the dairy operator noticed a 30-foot-wide breach on the lagoon's northwest side and notified the appropriate authorities midday Monday, said Department of Agriculture spokesman Jason Kelly.

Jason Bartelheimer, a fourth-generation dairy operator, answered his cell phone Tuesday evening while operating an excavator in one of his family's fields on the 600-acre farm off Highway 2.

"I can't really talk — we're still in the field, trying to get it stopped from getting into French Slough," he said of contaminated surface water.

While there is no threat to drinking water, the state Department of Health is warning people to avoid contact with water in French Slough and the Snohomish River, which both show signs of contamination, Kelly said. Cow manure is likely to contain E. coli bacteria, which can make people ill, with symptoms — including diarrhea, vomiting and fever — appearing within hours or days after infection.

There isn't much officials can do to remove the biodegradable matter, so the focus is on preventing any more contaminated surface water from entering the slough, which flows into the Snohomish, Kelly said.

The lagoon, built in 1997 to federal Department of Agriculture standards, is 580 feet in diameter, according to Kelly. It was built 5 feet below grade, so manure still in the lagoon "isn't going anywhere," he said.

The lagoon "failed catastrophically," and there will be an investigation to determine what caused it, Kelly said.

The dairy uses manure to fertilize corn and hay fields.