March rainstorms left some residents dealing with more than water seeping into basements. Officials say it was a case of bad timing.
Kurt Calkins, director of Columbia County Land and Water Conservation, said semi-solid manure (manure incorporated with bedding materials such as straw) was spread on a nearby farm field in the town of Lodi on March 8. Rainy weather over the weekend and into Monday caused possible runoff from the field into city streets and storm sewers.
Calkins visited the field in the town of Lodi near Woodlawn Avenue. The property is owned by a Lodi resident but is rented out. Calkins said while the manure shouldn’t have been put on the field with rain in the forecast, nothing illegal occurred.
“The producer didn’t think about it,” Calkins said. “It’s not good for anybody that this happened. You are ultimately responsible for the manure you spread, you want it to stay on the field to help the crops.”
City of Lodi public works director Randy Herwig said residents in the Woodlawn area also reported runoff seeping into basements.
Town of Lodi officials, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Columbia County Land and Water and nearby residents were notified of the issue. Spreading of manure is allowed during the winter, but farmers are advised to use a “common sense approach”. Calkins said part of the solution is education such as using Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection manure management advisory system website which shows a weather forecast and runoff risk advisory.
Calkins said in a perfect world there wouldn’t be manure spreading in the winter, however the county doesn’t have the infrastructure in place to hold six months worth of manure.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the average dairy cow generates 150 pounds of manure every day.
“Even if we said tomorrow, ‘no more spreading manure in the winter’, we would still have to figure out what to do with all the manure livestock facilities create,” he said. The infrastructure price tag coupled with light soils in the area (as opposed to clay) makes manure storage cost prohibitive for many in the livestock industry Calkins said.
By utilizing the manure advisory system and nutrient management best practices Calkins said the risk can be minimized.
“We have made tremendous strides in reducing the amount of runoff that occurs,” Calkins said.