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Farmer agrees to changes after 2019 manure spill

Farmer agrees to changes after 2019 manure spill Farmer agrees to changes after 2019 manure spill

Rahm Dairy to build larger storage facility

A Colby area farmer has reached a settlement agreement with Marathon County that will allow him to avoid being fully penalized for a 2019 manure spill in exchange for taking corrective measures to prevent future runoff issues.

Keith Rahm, owner of Rahm Dairy in the town of Hull, signed the agreement on Oct. 16, along with Scott Corbett, corporation counsel for Marathon County.

Under its terms, Rahm agrees to immediately stop all manure spreading on “saturated, frozen and/or snow-covered ground” and to secure written agreements by Nov. 1 for off-site manure storage to supplement his existing storage facility. The goal is for him to acquire enough storage capacity for 240 days worth of manure.

Rahm is not allowed to use any “nonpermitted” storage facilities unless they are inspected and certified by an engineer from the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. “Nonpermitted” facilities refer to those that have not officially met the requirements established by the county’s nutrient management code.

The agreement also commits Rahm to constructing a permitted manure storage facility on his farm, with a minimum of 240 days of storage capacity, by Nov. 1, 2022, “regardless of cost-share ability.”

As long as Rahm complies with all of these conditions, the county will only require a $200 forfeiture for violating county ordinances dealing with animal waste storage and livestock facilities licensing.

If he fails to comply with provisions of the agreement, “the county will immediately resume the enforcement and penalty measures as specified in the original summons and complaint.”

The county first took action against Rahm after 40,000 to 50,000 gallons of animal waste spilled over the top of a manure pit at his 650-cow dairy on Huckleberry Road and flowed into Elm Brook on Oct. 7, 2019.

Paul Daigle, land and water program director for the Marathon County Department of Conservation, Planning and Zoning, said at the time that the spill was “the result of mismanagement.”

Representatives of the CPZ responded to the farm to investigate and worked with Rahm to clean up the spill, which flowed across a 1,000-foot strip of land leading toward Elm Creek.

After collecting evidence, including contaminated water from Elm Creek, the county filed a complaint against Rahm in December of 2019. Fines of up to $5,000 were possible for each violation of the ordinances.

Since 2015, the CPZ has been authorized to issue citations for manure handling violations under an ordinance approved by the county board that year.