DEC investigating manure runoff into Raquette tributaries (VIDEO)

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PARISHVILLE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation and DEC police officers have ruled that the runoff of thousands of gallons of liquid manure from a dairy farm into a tributary of the Raquette River did not threaten public or private water supplies, as was reported by a neighbor.

The runoff was caused by Adon Farms, 402 Route 72, a fourth-generation dairy farm owned and operated by Anthony J. Gilbert and his family.

DEC officials said approximately 15,000 gallons of liquid manure was spread.

“The farm owner reports that a new employee spread liquid manure approximately one month ago on a portion of the field that slopes to an unnamed tributary,” Andrea C. Pedrick, a spokesperson for the DEC, wrote in an email to the Times. “This portion of the field is traditionally avoided when spreading liquid manure. The farm is taking action with the employee.”

Mr. Gilbert declined to comment on the allegations and the DEC investigation.

Ms. Pedrick said the agency is monitoring Mr. Gilbert’s actions to address the liquid manure runoff and will issue fines for violations of the Clean Water Act to the site owner.

The fine amounts are yet to be determined, she said.

In a Feb. 5 Facebook post, Gary J. Snell Jr. took video of Garfield Brook, behind his father’s property on Route 72, neighboring Adon Farm, which showed the runoff surrounding and getting into the water.

“I’m by no means anti-agriculture or anti-farming,” Mr. Snell wrote. “Far from that, for sure. I do, however, find this runoff of manure onto our property (today) even over my limit — a half-mile or more of stench flowing into our woods … This is what happens when liquid manure is spread on frozen ground and snow, on a slope, and we get a thaw like this.”

Mr. Snell said he spoke with the person responsible for spreading the manure who had told him “it was a mistake to spread where they did on frozen ground.”

On Feb. 6, Mr. Snell told DEC officials from the Potsdam and Watertown areas that the runoff is potentially impacting a drinking water well in the area and an unnamed tributary to Garfield Brook, which flows into the Raquette River in St. Lawrence County.

The area was inspected by Environmental Conservation officers when they received the complaint and DEC Division of Water staff investigated the site the following day.

“At the time of the inspections, there were no visual signs of the release,” Ms. Pedrick wrote. “DEC concluded that there were no impacts to private or public water supplies based on observations and the distance between the impacted surface water and the drinking water sources. DEC took all necessary actions to protect public health and the environment.”

Ms. Pedrick said the agency regularly inspects farms with permitted Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and vigorously enforces all violations of the state’s strict environmental conservation laws and the Clean Water Act.

“The bottom line is: the government needs to provide them with the funding they need to build manure storages so they don’t have to spread on frozen ground,” Mr. Snell told the Times. “That would not solve all of the problems but it would have prevented this type of situation.”

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