Manure spill enters Little Suamico River in Oconto County

    Cows graze on the Tranel Family Farm, Organic Valley farmer-member (photo courtesy of Organic Valley)
    Cows graze on the Tranel Family Farm, Organic Valley farmer-member (photo courtesy of Organic Valley)

    The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is assisting in the clean-up of a manure spill near the village of Pulaski in Oconto County. After spreading over land last weekend, the manure has entered the Little Suamico River.

    “DNR staff has been on-site since Sunday and is assisting with cleanup efforts being led by the farm,” a Department press release states. “The discharge has been stopped at the application site; however, cleanup efforts are still ongoing.”

    Brian Hanson, a DNR agricultural runoff specialist, told Wisconsin Examiner that officials are still working on estimating how much waste was released. “Due to the timing and nature of this spill,” said Hanson, “we are unable to make an accurate estimation of the amount of manure that was spilled, other than to say it was a significant amount.”

    In October, a spill in Marathon County released over 40,000 gallons of liquid manure. The spill flowed over land, and entered the Elm Creek, which is in close proximity to other waterways. Although lower oxygen levels were detected downstream by the DNR, no fish kills were reported. Past spills have resulted in large amounts of waste being released into waterways. In 2017, 20,000 gallons of animal waste entered the Fox River. In another incident, waste entered a tributary, killing more than 1,300 fish once it reached the Kickapoo River.

    These situations typically trigger violation notices and fines to the responsible parties. More details will be available on the most recent manure spill, according to the DNR, as the situation develops.

    Isiah Holmes
    Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, and other outlets.