Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When is a manure lagoon a wetland?

Ok, well, there's a dirty secret.  Cows produce manure.  And when you run a dairy farm, most of the manure ends up pretty close to your barn.  So a common way to deal with this problem, both solid and liquid, was to put it into a manure pond. 

This is pretty much what you'd expect it to be.  A hole filled with manure.  I have to confess, that I don't know much about manure ponds, or what the current state-of-the-art manure pond science. 

I was in the audience to speak to the Snohomish County Ag Advisory board (more on that in another post) and sat next to a woman, who told me this story: 

"My neighbor was doing a wetland project, and sent a complaint in about this manure pond I have on my property.  The department of Ecology came out, and inspected my manure pond.  The manure pond was built in 1963, and it's been a manure pond every since.  Paul anderson determined that my manure pond was a wetland. " 

First, it's a little hard to believe that a manure pond is a wetland.  Maybe it's located in a wetland, but you're kidding, right?  the manure pond itself is a wetland?  "Yes,  the area inside the walls of the manure pond he decided was a wetland".  How did he know?  "Well, he did core samples around the wetland, and he claims to have found wetland plants 15' down in the soil.  "

Take home lessons:
1)  Grandfathering doesn't matter to the department of ecology.  No matter how old your agricultural practice is, it's never too late to make it illegal and fine you.
2)  Generally speaking, allowing ecology on your land is usually a bad idea.  Just say HELL NO.
3)  Vegetation that is under soil and water can last for centuries.  If they dig deep enough, they can find something you did wrong.

1 comment:

  1. Is this how they've shut down the dairies in SnoCo? The Dept of ecology needs to go away. See