Manure Manager

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Livestock access to river leads to fine


August 16, 2010
By Manure Manager

August 10, 2010, Bellingham, WA – A Samish Valley cattle owner faces a
$6,000 fine for allowing livestock to drink in and along the Samish
River, north of Sedro Woolley.

August 10, 2010, Bellingham, WA – A Samish Valley cattle owner faces a $6,000 fine for allowing livestock to drink in and along the Samish River, north of Sedro Woolley.

Washington’s Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued the penalty and a companion immediate-action order to Michael Hull. Ecology inspectors found that livestock on Hull’s property had access to stand in or next to the river to drink.

“It’s unfortunate that Mr. Hull would not join other Samish Valley herd owners who have adopted out-of-stream watering practices,” said Richard Grout, manager of Ecology’s Bellingham Field Office. “His herd’s watering spot along the riverbank had a fecal bacteria count more than 300 times the state water quality standard for the Samish River.”

Ecology also ordered Hull to immediately halt practices that allow manure discharges into the Samish; to establish cover growth on riverbanks with bare, manure-contaminated soil; and to keep 35 feet between livestock and the top of the bank.

Ecology is participating with more than 20 local, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, businesses, agricultural groups and other organizations in the Clean Samish Initiative. The group coordinates member organizations’ efforts to improve water quality in the river.

As part of the agency’s commitment to the initiative, Ecology has visited 37 livestock owners in the middle Samish and referred most to the Skagit Conservation District for nutrient-management plans or other technical assistance. The plans help herd owners prevent manure-related pollution and make them eligible for grants or low-interest loans to obtain pumps for off-stream watering stations.

Livestock owners also can voluntarily contact the Conservation District for assistance on how to prevent bacteria discharges to surface waters.

Manure-contaminated muddy or bare patches on livestock-rearing lands often are sources of manure and associated bacteria that wash to the Samish River. These areas typically lie near animal access points along waterways and near livestock feeding and watering areas on farms.


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