UPDATE @ 6:02 p.m.: The Darke County stream contaminated when manure leaked into it from a field is being cleaned, an Ohio EPA official said in a prepared statement.
The cleanup is ongoing and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is monitoring the situation, Dina Pierce, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman, said.
“A manure spill was reported last week (Sept. 30) and Ohio EPA staff responded,” the statement reads. “Manure had affected about 4.5 miles of North Fork Stillwater River in Rossburg. A containment dam was installed and cleanup began, including aeration of the stream.”
Thousands of fish have turned up dead after manure used for farming leaked into the waterways.
People who live in the area say they’re worried for their own health after seeing multiple environmental agencies testing water near their homes.
Several residents said they noticed the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Darke County Soil and Water testing the stream.
Joey Schmitmeyer said officials told him a farmer used 650,000 gallons of manure on a field, which wasn’t tilled, and it ran off into a local stream.
“Applied manure to his field and because it was so dry, that manure washed down in the cracks and got into the water ways,” he said. “Every bridge you went around, you saw hundreds of dead fish around.”
Schmitmeyer said this stream is the same one his kids and dog play in daily.
“My daughter loves nothing more than to get a lawn chair and a tackle box and sit at the edge of that creek and catch what she can and throw it back and I do not feel safe with her doing that.”
Environmental officials said hoses are pumping the contaminated water out and clean water in, but one resident said it could be years before the water is safe again.
“I was told this could be a 10- to 15-year cleanup,” the resident, Jesse Penix, said.