Herald and Journal, April 30, 2001

Enforcement forum to meet again about Metro Dairy spill

By Lynda Jensen

An enforcement forum made up of MPCA staff, supervisors and representatives from the attorney general's office, will meet again at an undetermined date to discuss a manure spill at Metro Dairy, said MPCA spokesperson Julie Swiler.

The forum met once already and issued a notice of violation, Swiler said. This does not mean that Metro Dairy will be fined because it's too early in the process yet, she said.

Metro Dairy, rural Waverly, has voluntarily agreed to reimburse Wright County for the cost of sampling drinking wells from the spill site at Depsey Avenue to Wright County Road 110.

The testing is related to an estimated 100,000 gallons of liquid manure that spilled March 15 when earthen lagoons at the dairy overflowed into a storm water pond three miles south of Waverly, and discharged thousands of gallons of liquid manure into a county ditch in Woodland Township.

Metro Dairy, and its owner Virgil Scherping, have since been charged with violations from both the Wright County attorney for violating the county feedlot ordinance, as well as the MPCA.

In its clean up efforts, Metro Dairy removed 380,000 gallons of the spilled mixture out of County Ditch 31, which runs just past the lagoons and then winds its way across half the township in the form of a small creek.

Clean up efforts ceased March 24, with both the MPCA and Metro Dairy saying that the clean up was complete. This is contrary to neighbors living there, who insist that the spill continued much longer than this, and fault the MPCA for relying on Metro Dairy for information without checking it for accuracy.

The creek eventually empties into the Crow River, although the spill didn't reach the river and no fish kills were reported, MPCA Area Manager Myrna Halbach said.

Initially, Metro Dairy attempted to contain the spill on its own property, but did not notify any authorities of the problem until four days after the event, and started clean up efforts six days after the event, Halbach said,when the spill got out of control and spread down the adjacent creek.

Feedlot operators are required to notify officials regardless of whether a spill is on its own property or not, Halbach said.


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