Killing more than 3,500 fish in a nearby creek, the owners of High Point Dairy located in Lynn, Ind., have agreed to pay the nearly $10,000 fine after a lagoon spill polluted local waters last April. On top of the civil penalty fine, the farm’s owners have also agreed to reimburse the Indiana Department of Natural Resources $1,775 for the value of damage to fish and wildlife.
Overfilling their manure management system last year, a wet spring caused lagoon water to seep into a field tile that led to Fountain Creek. The event, which occurred in April 2017, killed more than 3,500 fish and caused significant damage to the surrounding ecosystem.
Adding to an already full lagoon, heavy rainfalls throughout March and April prevented the farm’s owner, Robert White, from spreading the manure on his fields, according to The Star Press.
"Unforeseeable rain added to our problem," White said. "Mother Nature wouldn't let us pump the manure out. We just needed a few more days of dry weather to dragline it onto the fields."
Noticing “belly-up” fish in the nearby creek, neighbors reported the issue to state officials, but the damage had already been done. White estimates approximately 5,000 gallons of manure polluted the water.
"We are stewards of the land," White said. "We are the last ones who want any problems because we live here and will be here."
According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the farm had experienced violations prior to this incident including failing to provide a construction start notification, not identifying accurate manure level markers and not conducting annual manure tests to minimize nutrient leaching.
One year later, the farm has now agreed to pay the $9,600 fine and is cooperating with state officials to ensure the manure management issue will not happen again.