PROCEDURE for HANDLING ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER WINTER MANURE APPLICATION
This procedure was developed by the Mercer Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) with input from state and local partners. Allegations of potential pollution, such as allegations of improper winter manure application, are instances that have the potential to pollute waters of the State, but no direct impact is occurring to waters of the State at that time. Procedures for handling pollution complaints are specifically outlined in Ohio Administrative Code 1501:15:5-15; however, Mercer SWCD felt it was also necessary to develop a procedure for handling allegations of potential pollution. Mercer SWCD has limited staff and resources; therefore, this procedure will help focus and prioritize resources and technical assistance given by the Mercer SWCD. This procedure is also intended to limit the amount of frivolous allegations received by the Mercer SWCD and to reduce the number of instances where farmers and landowners are falsely accused. Mercer SWCD takes all allegations seriously and the collection of additional information will allow Mercer SWCD to effectively respond and investigate valid allegations.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has issued a standard (NRCS Standard 633) outlining guidelines that should be followed by non-permitted facilities when land-applying manure. Following this standard will ultimately limit the potential for pollution instances. Following NRCS Standard 633 is a requirement for producers in the Grand Lake St. Marys Watershed but is only a recommendation for producers in watersheds that have not been declared distressed by the state of Ohio.
Any person alleging an instance of improper manure application should contact the Mercer SWCD via phone or email. The person making the allegation will be required to completely and honestly answer all of the questions in this form.
Subject to the information provided from the following questions, the Mercer SWCD reserves the right to decide whether or not an investigation by the SWCD staff is warranted. If investigated and found to be a reasonable concern, Mercer SWCD staff will work with the producer to educate him/her on the guidelines/rules outlined in NRCS Standard 633 and provide technical assistance and/or make recommendations for the use of best management practices. Producers will be notified via phone following the receipt of every allegation submitted to the Mercer SWCD, regardless of whether an investigation will occur.
Following an investigation, Mercer SWCD staff will make a follow-up phone call or email to the person who made the allegation to inform them of the outcome. If the same person submits three allegations that are all found to be false, any additional allegations made by that person will require an original signature each time. If any person chooses to report an allegation to a State agency, the attached allegation form must still be filled out completely for an investigation by Mercer SWCD to be considered. The Mercer SWCD staff can be reached at 419-586-3289. Emailed allegations shall be sent to a minimum of two of the following addresses (to ensure the receipt of the allegation in one personís absence):
ALLEGATIONS OF IMPROPER WINTER MANURE APPLICATION
Questions to be asked of person filing report (All questions must be answered completely and honestly)
Date and time of alleged action:
Date and time of report filing:
Method of report (phone, fax, written or email):
Name, phone number and/or email of person filing report:
Specific location of alleged action: (i.e. address, road and crossroads, nearby tributary)
*Is the action directly polluting waters of the State? (circle one) Yes No
What is the nature of the allegation? (ex. type of manure (solid/liquid/animal type) and method of application)
How far from a road, ditch, waterway and/or stream is the action occurring?
What is the approximate rate of manure application? (i.e. approximate depth of manure)
Description of cover in the field. (ex. growing crop, corn grain residue, soybeans, wheat, etc.)
Is manure being incorporated into the ground? (circle one) Yes No
Is manure being applied on more than 20 contiguous acres? (circle one) Yes No
*If the answer to Question 3 is yes, the allegation becomes a complaint because pollution is entering waters of the State. The complainant shall report it through Central Dispatch at 419-586-6455 who will contact the local Game Warden. If the person is unwilling to report to this number, the person may file a written complaint with the Mercer SWCD that will follow Ohio Administrative Code 1501:15-5-15 to review the complaint. The complaint will be investigated by the local Game Warden along with the SWCD to determine the extent of pollution and the appropriate action to take.
The Mercer SWCD prohibits discrimination in any of its programs on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, and marital or familial status.