Post spill evidence by the DNR
Ninety families lived within 2 miles of Emerald Sky Dairy at the time of this spill in March 2017. They did not receive justice in the aftermath of this spill. They have no legal recourse due to “Right to Farm” laws that protect polluters.
Two and half years after a massive manure spill was discovered by anonymous tip at Emerald Sky Dairy in northeastern St. Croix County, a settlement to the case has been reached.
According to the civil complaint filed by the State of Wisconsin, this spill occurred in December 2016, lasted 10 days, and spilled 275,000 gallons of raw waste into wetlands and a storm water pond. The owners did not report this spill within 24 hours, as per state law. An anonymous tip to County staff led to the discovery in March 2017. The spill cleanup contained solid manure totaling 3,455 tons and contaminated storm water equaling eight million gallons, all of which were land spread on area fields in 2017.
The civil complaint also stated E.coli levels in the storm water pond and downstream in the wetlands from the spill registered
8-10 times higher than readings when DNR normally closes a beach due to E.coli contamination.
According to DNR Open Records request, a cluster of homes downstream from the spill reported E.coli contamination in June 2017. DNR was contacted by these homeowners, but did not do any advanced testing to verify the source of this contamination. One homeowner had tested their well water every year for 20 years and never had a problem with E.coli until June 2017. DNR instructed homeowners to bleach their wells and contact them if other issues resurfaced.
Reporter Tony Ends stated in The Milkweed (June 2019) in “Huge Wisconsin CAFO Manure Spill Case Settled for only $80,000” “...Some of these violations of State law ran on for nearly 100 days. Any one of those violations could have carried a $10,000 per day fine. The actual base fine Emerald Sky agreed to pay was slightly more than $54,000.....; Per this statement, this would have been a 95% reduction in the potential fines assessed.
April 2017, An Anonymous Tip Reveals a "Massive" Manure Spill
Clean up from a “massive” manure spill is still going on one week after an anonymous tip lead County and DNR staff to Emerald Sky Dairy in Emerald, WI. The tip indicated there had been a spill of “tens of thousands of gallons of manure water” that had not been reported to DNR officials as required by the dairy's permits with State and local entities. No time line was given as to when this occurred. County staff investigated and found tens of thousands of gallons of both liquid and solid manure in the storm water pond and adjacent wetland at Emerald Sky Dairy.
“Justice Department Staff said they did not know about area residents' E.coli tainted wells, that there was nothing of that from the DNR investigation written into the civil complaint under former state AG Schmiel, who brokered the settlement....” per The Milkweed's report.
“Affected residents had no knowledge of this settlement until after the fact.....no opportunity to weigh in with our Justice System and explain how this massive manure spill affected our lives. A pregnant woman, a neighbor receiving cancer treatments, and other elderly populations in the vicinity had no idea their water may have been contaminated for three months,” stated Emerald resident Virginia Drath. “The uncertainty and emotional turmoil this created in our community cannot be overstated.”
“A local citizen was told by a CAFO owner that “It’s cheaper to pay the fine than it is to fix the problem” said Virginia Drath. “This slap on the wrist settlement is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with our CAFO oversight systems, especially when this spill resulted in the largest cleanup of its kind in state history.”
Say NO to CAFO, Water contamination is real!
(CAFO) Stands for: Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. Contact St. Croix County Health and Human Service.
Department of Health and
Human Services – Public Health
1752 Dorset Lane
New Richmond WI 54017
Phone: (715) 246.8263
Report any incidents of spills or mismangement of waste to St. Croix County
Community Development department, Steve Olson at
Email: email@example.com / Phone: (715) 531-1909