DNR warns of potentially toxic liquid discharge in Town of Ledgeview

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it is assessing "the impact and potential risks related to a silage leachate discharge" in the Town of Ledgeview.

WBAY

Sileage leachate is liquid produced in feed storage facilities. It results from the "compaction and storage of harvested crops." The discharge has a white, cloudy appearance.

The discharge is coming from a feed storage area at Ledgeview Farms off Lime Kiln Road. It is flowing into Bower Creek.

"As a surface water conduit and a tributary, it's going to be in Bower Creek, the East River and then the Bay of Green Bay. It's a surface water flow. So with our flows now, it will continue to move downstream," says County Land & Water Conservationist Mike Mushinski.

Joe Baeten, Northeast run off management supervisor for the DNR says they have contained the leak at the farm, but are still working to mitigate near-by creeks like Bower Creek.

Ledgeview residents spotted the leachate and reported it to officials.

"The reports of leachate and issues of surface water reported on Meadow Sound Drive--it's an existing location as a leachate pad that's leaching feed leachate at this point," says Mushinski.

There have been no reports of contamination in drinking water, according to Mushinski.

The Brown County Land and Water Conservation and DNR were on site Thursday working with farm to "reduce the potential for future runoff on that site," says Mushinksi.

"The property owner built berms to contain the leachate, but it appears that the liquid is moving through the ground below the feed storage area and seeping under the berms. DNR officials are working with the property owner to implement interim controls for the subsurface movement," reads a statement from the DNR.

Exposure to leachate could make people and animals sick.

"Sileage leachate can contain a variety of bacteria, specifically E. coli, and toxins that can make people and animals sick. As a result, Brown County Public Health officials recommend that residents, especially children and pets, in the area of the discharge avoid coming into contact with the leachate," says the DNR.

Anyone who comes in contact with sileage leachate should wash their hands with soap and warm water and avoid hand-to-mouth contact.

"There were reports that children and animals were playing in the water so that's why we again want to reiterate that we want to keep children and pets out of those areas," says Brown County Public Health Officer Anna Destree.

Symptoms can appear 3-4 days after initial contact. The DNR says those symptoms include fever, vomiting and "persistent, severe diarrhea." If you have symptoms, call your doctor.

Sileage leachate causes the same symptoms in pets. It can cause liver damage in pets. If you notice these symptoms, call your veterinarian.

There are no reports of illnesses from exposure to the discharge as of this publication.

According to online documents filed with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, this is not the first time Ledgeview Farms has had run off issues.

A memo from the town planner dated March 1, 2019 to the Ledgeview Town Board has a summary of noncompliance.

"In correspondence dated November 14, 2018, DNR stated that several items related to runoff controls remained unaddressed," reads the memo.

It goes on to say "Leachate was visibly discharging from the northeast corner of the bunker wall to the vegetated area north of the feed storage area."

The farm has applied for a permit to expand its farming operations twice since 2017. Both applications to the Town have been denied citing noncompliance with state law and town ordinances.