OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has fined Beaver Marsh Dairy in Mount Vernon $6,000 for applying liquid manure to a field that resulted in a discharge and raised the fecal coliform level in nearby Beaver Marsh Road ditch above established standards, violating the state’s Water Pollution Control Act.
The ditch drains to the Skagit River, which is summer habitat for salmon and primary recreational water.
On Dec. 23, 2013, WSDA received a complaint that Beaver Marsh Dairy had over-applied manure and the agency began investigating. Results from water samples taken from the adjacent ditch found fecal coliform levels exceeding state water quality standards. The resulting Notice of Penalty was issued March 13. The dairy has 30 days from that date to seek an appeal.
Washington’s Dairy Nutrient Management Act requires dairies to manage the manure produced by their cows. WSDA’s Dairy Nutrient Management Program works with dairies and enforces this act to protect surface and ground water as required by the state’s Water Pollution Control Act. The state Department of Ecology enforces the Water Pollution Control Act on all non-dairy lands.
WSDA inspectors with this program regularly visit the state’s 400 dairies to inspect manure containment and clean water diversion facilities, review records including soil tests, manure nutrient analyses, nutrient application and transfer records. This is done to ensure that manure is managed in a way that protects surface and groundwater from the discharge of pollutants, including bacteria that can be harmful to human health and aquatic life.
Penalties paid to the WSDA Dairy Nutrient Management Program fund a grant account. The grants pay for research, education, and outreach to benefit dairies in Washington state. Penalty levels are set based on a penalty schedule and are affected by factors such as having previous violations.