Feature Writer

PAYNE – Sources from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) have confirmed that a manure spill occurred in southwestern Paulding County in recent weeks at the Van Erk Dairy, located at the northwest corner of Ohio 114 and County Road 33.

Eric Heis, ODNR public information officer, said Paulding Soil and Water received a complaint about manure from a holding pond at the Wildcat Dairy facility being spread on frozen and snow-covered ground.

“The Paulding SWCD, along with an ODNR Division of Soil and Water Resources staff member, investigated the complaint and determined that standards for spreading manure on frozen and snow-covered ground defined in Ohio’s Agriculture Pollution Abatement were not being followed,” stated Heis.

“Therefore, manure discharge to waters of the state was likely,” continued Heis. “After the investigation, Trent Stoller, the operator, agreed to stop manure application and to put in place measures that could contain the runoff in an attempt to reduce or prevent a discharge.”

The original complaint was filed on Feb. 26. Heis said that by March 9, the snow was melting.

He noted that meltwater is unable to infiltrate frozen soil. Therefore, the meltwater mixed with recently applied manure had flowed from the field into the ditch and continued downstream.

“Due to the large volume of meltwater, attempts to contain the runoff were unsuccessful. Several other entities responded to this discharge of pollution, including the EPA, ODNR Division of Wildlife and Paulding County EMA. These entities continued to monitor the site through the week as the snow melt and runoff continued,” said Heis.

County EMA director Ed Bohn noted that his primary interest in the matter was Flat Rock Creek. He said that he monitored the creek for a short time when it was discovered that a small amount of the discharge had indeed gone into the waterway. He monitored the site for about a week until he was satisfied that it was no longer a problem.

“The pollution event can be attributed to the application of manure to snow-covered frozen soil,” said Heis. “Since the snow and the soil have melted, another significant discharge is not likely. The Paulding County Soil and Water Conservation District will continue to follow up. However, since the spring thaw, there is no longer an immediate threat to pollution.

“Gov. Kasich just signed Senate Bill One,” continued Heis. “This law bans the spreading of manure on frozen and snow-covered ground in the Western Lake Erie Basin. The intent of this law is to prevent this type of manure application that led to this incident in Paulding County.”