Christian Yonkers Contributing Writer
An unknown volume of manure entered the Coldwater River last Friday, visibly blackening the river a significant distance downstream. The spill was reported Friday evening, prompting an investigation by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality DEQ staff traced the spill to fields managed by Brook View Dairy, a large concentrated animal feeding operation just north of Freeport, in Kent County. According to preliminary DEQ findings, Brook View Dairy applied manure to several fields north of Vedder Road and between Perry and Bell roads in Ionia County. The fields, frozen on the day of application, failed to absorb the manure, which spilled into nearby Messer Brook. The DEQ could not verify the exact volume of the spill.
Portions of the Coldwater River and Messer Creek were blackened and produced a foul
odor. An impact study has been launched the Department of Natural Resources, but no immediate signs indicate a fish kill.
This is the second spill on Brook View Dairy’s watch in the past year, the last being a 10,000-gallon spill in April 2018. Last Friday marked the third major spill in the Coldwater River in less than 12 months. In January,
500,000 gallons of manure leached into the watershed from fields overseen by Swisslane Dairy, another concentrated animal feeding operation just north of Brook View Dairy.
DEQ staff plans to have concluded its investigation this week. Further details will be
included in the report. “We are continuing to investigate Brook View Dairy’s compliance with their [National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System] CAFO permit,” Michael Worm, district supervisor of the region’s DEQ Water Resources Division, said. “We are still working on an estimate of the amount of manure discharged
to waters of the state.” Brook View Dairy representatives did not respond to a request for an interview.