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Not an act of nature

FORUM

In late February and early March, a berm protecting a 187-acre dairy-owned field near Outlook failed.

Manure-laden water flowed for a half-mile and flooded nine homes. Yet, the state Department of Agriculture has absolved the dairy of any wrongdoing.

Once again, WSDA has covered up for a polluting industry.

• RCW 90.64 requires dairies to have plans in place to address 25-year, 24-hour storm events. Dairy Nutrient Management Plans require sufficient lagoon storage to accommodate stormwater runoff.

• According to reports, WSDA did not investigate how a 150-acre pond of water came to be on this field. It did not ask whether this water was due to runoff from the upgradient dairy.

• During this especially wet winter, Dairy Nutrient Management Program officials advised dairies not to apply manure to snow-covered, frozen or saturated soils

The subject dairy had already applied 1,986,200 total gallons of liquid manure between Nov. 1-29 to 133 acres. Pictures certainly do not show a crop on the field that could take up this nitrogen, and soil samples from the field show sufficient nitrogen for crops prior to manure application.

Saturated conditions guarantee that most of this fall application will leach to the aquifer.

Under Washington law, WSDA is responsible for implementation of the Clean Water Act with respect to dairies.

The agency fails miserably, and the result is ongoing, egregious ground and surface water pollution in the Lower Yakima Valley.

Under current rules, the manure spill will be classified as an act of nature and there will be no record.

Jean Mendoza, Friends of Toppenish Creek

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