DNR: Spring rain may harm lakes more than manure spills

wsjfloodingPosted Wednesday, March 19th-The Waunakee Tribune

Dane County’s lakes and waterways could be more under siege from a spring rain than the three manure spills at the Clear Horizons plant. The manure digester facility just north of Waunakee released 35,000 gallons of manure last week, the third spill since Nov. 24. But according to water quality specialists with the DNR, that spill was contained on site. The initial spill on Nov. 24 released over 300,000 gallons of manure with some runoff into Six Mile Creek. Monitoring done at Hwy. M where the creek enters Lake Mendota detected 30 pounds of phosphorus entering the lake as a result. In contrast, that same monitoring station detected 4,400 pounds of phosphorus after a heavy spring rain last year. Each pound of phosphorus can generate 500 pounds of algae. A heavy rain right around now could produce a similarly heavy phosphorus load, said Jim Amrhein, DNR water quality biologist.

“The frozen ground is the big thing,” Amrhein said. “If we get really warm temperatures and rain after that, it’s going to run off.”Amrhein said he and other biologists found no fish kills after the Nov. 24 spill, and they have had no water quality complaints since. And now, all traces of that spill are gone, Amrhein said. “As far as the water chemistry effect, anything resulting from last November’s release is pretty much gone,” Amrhein said. Amrhein said anyone with water quality concerns should contact the DNR office in Fitchburg at (608) 275-3266, Amrhein said.

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Natalie EndresDNR: Spring rain may harm lakes more than manure spills