No more water tests in wake of FDL Co. manure spill

Pipe Creek in Fond du Lac County is seen, May 29, 2014.
Pipe Creek in Fond du Lac County is seen, May 29, 2014. (WLUK/Chad Doran)

FOND DU LAC – The Fond du Lac County Health Dept. is ending the water quality tests it had done since a May 26 manure spill at Lake Breeze Dairy.

An estimated 50,000 gallons of manure spilled into Pipe Creek, which drains into Lake Winnebago. The spill happened at Lake Breeze Dairy Farm in Malone, to the east of the lake.

The surface water tests have taken place at various places along the creek, in the marina and along a beach area.  Drinking water wells at county parks and at some homes near the creek have been tested, according to Kim Mueller, with the county health department.

There has been no evidence of wells being affected by the spill. Since the time of the spill, the levels of bacteria in Pipe Creek, up and downstream of the spill, have fluctuated. Some days the results were safe and other days the results have been unsafe for recreational activity. This fluctuation is typical for water bodies in agriculturally dominated watersheds such as the one draining to Pipe Creek, Mueller said.

The county, after consulting with the state,  has determined that no additional testing is needed, as the creek has returned to its usual state. Signage along the creek will remain up for the remainder of the year. Levels of bacteria fluctuate on a daily basis in fresh water such as a creek or lake.  As always keep in mind precautions when using fresh water areas for swimming, wading or fishing – these include showering after skin contact with water, preventing ingestion of water, safe fish cleaning practices, etc.

The event did not effect drinking water.  However, if you notice any changes in the taste, odor or appearance of your private drinking water, notify the DNR or the Health Department immediately. It has always been the recommendation of the Fond du Lac County Health Department that property owners test their wells on an annual basis for bacteria and nitrates.

For more information on well water testing check the DNR’s website. You may also contact the Fond du Lac County Health Department directly at 920-929-3085 for a list of laboratories.

The DNR says it continues to continues to review the matter, but a Notice of Violation is expected to be issued in the next few weeks, according to the DNR’s Casey Jones.

The DNR cannot fine a permitted facility but could ask the Dept. Of Justice to pursue monetary penalties in civil court. But it has not been determined yet if the DNR will seek such action, she said.

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