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Monday, April 20, 2009

Between Crap and a Hard Place, pt. 3

Unless something catastrophic happens from farm runoff, it hardly generates news anymore. River Rat has learned that a leak from a Kewaunee County farmer's manure pit spilled several hundred thousand gallons into the Kewaunee River on April 10. A broken pipe is apparently the cause. The photo shows an attempt to control manure running into the Kewaunee River from a leaky pipe near a manure pit.

One eye witness account of the event put it this way: "When I stuck my hand in the water and pulled it out to smell it, to say it smelled as though I just pulled it out of a cow's ass would be an understatement!" (RAT EDITOR: We apologize to readers with sensitive countenances for the blue language...the truth is sometimes a jarring thing.) Aye-yi-yi! Brave fellow, this particular river rat. According to news reports, the farmer is cooperating with the DNR. No one is counting dead fish yet, as far as Rat knows.

Not the case at the Big Eau Pleine reservoir, where the fish die-off we told you about last week and the week before is nothing short of a disaster. On Thursday, April 23, Wisconsin Public Television will air part two of it's report on that fish kill, getting at the root causes (we linked to part one here). Here's betting farm runoff will be high on that cause list. Nothing catastrophic, but cumulative and chronic over the decades, as phosphorus-rich sediments get to the Big Eau Pleine River, which feeds algae, which then consumes oxygen, which fish can't live without.

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