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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 1:41 pm 
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Location: Southeast Dallas County/Balch Springs ,TEXAS
I need someone who can help me with the mess my neighbor has caused. As in the topic, raw sewage has been introduced to my livestock pond. I have contacted the TCEQ and they are coming to test the water for e-coli, etc., but I'll have to find someone to interpret the results of the test for livestock safety. That's my first issue and quite frankly, my main concern-is the water safe so I can put my animals back out on it yet? I am responsible for the well being of other people's horses and I need to know. No one can seem to tell me what the test would be for livestock safety. To make matters worse, the pond overflows when it rains into another creekbed and out into a public waterway and street where kids, domestic animals and other storm water sources come into contact with it.

Secondly, if you can imagine, the creators of the sewage, an apartment complex 2 doors down, have sued me! The water district and the owner of the pasture next door to me where the broken pipe is located are also named in the suit. (the pasture is strictly used for grazing, the only one's actually using the pipe are the apartment residents). So while the 3 parties are blaming each other for causing the back up, not maintianing the pipe and whatever else - I have horses running around my back yard instead of on my 10 acres, drinking out of city water that is costing me a fortune and being fed hay instead of being on grass. I do not have the resources to fence off the pond and give them access to the rest of the pasture as it runs the width of the entire pasture except for a creek bed on the front and back side. As I said, I've been putting out hay for them, but tempers are flaring due to the space constraints, shade is minimal and quite frankly I am getting fed up too - with the lack of a sense of urgency in all this from the other parties. But the legal angle is taking forever and I can't afford to hire an atty. to get anyone's attention. I have some friends offering me some help from a legal angle, but I am not familiar with what steps are going to need to be taken to bring this place back to normal once I can turn the horses back out. They've all but eaten the dirt out of the "yard" where they've been turned out. I may never have grass there again I'm afraid, without some sort of interference - organic of course - but talk about "overgrazed". I need some ranching advice I guess. What would you do?

Anyone who knows what all else I need to do, regardless of the cost, please let me know. I need to file a counter claim and I want to make sure I include any and all costs. I have pond remediation costs, restocking of fish, hay, fly management, interuption of business and a few other things my insurance agent told me to include. What else am I entitled to? Thanks. Sorry this is such a long post - but I didn't know what else to do but turn to fellow stewards of the earth for help. Thanks to Kathe - Marie


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:53 pm 
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Of all the things that could have been dumped into a pond, raw sewage from a local apartment complex is one of the least troublesome. A bad problem would be the runoff from an electroplating plant.

If the animals have access to the pond anyway, the pond is chronically rich with e.coli. You would have a hard time proving that you did not already have a pond full of e. coli prior to the incident. Even if the animals did not have full access to the pond, it probably has e. coli along with cryptosporidium cysts, and giardia in it.

e. coli is an anerobic microbe. If you want to try to clean it up anyway, aeration should take care of the pond's problems. You can put a fountain pump in it to blow the water up into the air or you can pump air into the pond like a bubbler. The fountain is probably 10 times more effective at aeration. To help it along you could put compost in the pond. You shouldn't need much (1/2 inch) or you could go up to 4 inches deep over the surface area of the pond.

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 Post subject: Thanks for the input
PostPosted: Sun Jul 10, 2005 4:14 pm 
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Location: Southeast Dallas County/Balch Springs ,TEXAS
I appreciate your input. Yes, it could have been much more of a toxic mess, but nonetheless, they wouldn't drink from a pond full of dead fish, and the vet instructed me not to turn the horses out there until it was remediated. The results from ecoli test would be somewhat telling in that we know that a "clear" pond reading would be about 300-400, and we know that raw sewage leak readings would be in the 10's of thousands - according to the TCEQ last Friday. We're in the low thousands - about what they think is normal for a stock pond. We're waiting on one other test, but it looks like we can go back on the pasture this week - ya hoooo! They won't want to come in for a week!

As for aeration, I did use a trash pump for 3 days the first week it happened as I couldn't stand to watch the fish suffocating. It helped clear up the surface of a few areas, but, because the pasture was not ever remediated, the next time it rained, it washed all that standing poop back down the stream and into the pond causing another algae explosion. Once the case is settled, I'll have The Pond Medic come out and he'll treat the whole area with enzymes that will break down some of that excess "organic matter" and return things to normal. I got in touch with Walt Davis regarding the pasture restoration - as we have basically been reduced to a dry lot. It has been a mess and a lot of work, but it looks like things will be on the upswing soon. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Mutual Support
PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 9:59 pm 
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I have been giving Marie moral support and trying to help through this whole mess and suggested she post a request for help on the forum. Thanks to those of you who posted replies and tried to help. Marie is a staunch supporter of our programs and it was good to see the members try to help. I'll make sure she lets everyone know how it ends up - good, bad or ugly. I'm betting she ends up on the winning side no matter how long it takes, because she's one smart, tenacious lady.

THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANY OF US AT ANY TIME. It's important we support and encourage one another when these situations occur.
And there's my soapbox for the day.
Kathe :D


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 Post subject: spill
PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2005 7:06 am 
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Location: Plano & land at Dodd City,TEXAS
Kathe-
Hooray for you for the encouragement & even tho I can't speak for everyone, I bet those who have looked in on this thread will be glad to know there's a good outcome.
Patty

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 Post subject: We're going to court....
PostPosted: Tue Jul 19, 2005 10:19 am 
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Well, tomorrow is a mediation hearing where they try to figure out who is responsible for the poop and the pipe, I guess. I have been pulling together all of the figures and the info you all have offered, along with lots of prayer and support from my friends, and I think I have a good case. I have to say that it has been bad, but it will get better. The state is trying to find a standard for what is a safe level of e-coli and other ickyness in the pond for livestock consumption. They say that they have just taken over the responsibility and don't have but a few years of history to go by. So, the horses are still tripping over each other on less than a half an acre at a time. But, we'll all make it through this. There'll be a few bite mark scars to show for the story. Not me - the horses. ha ha! So far nothing too major. I'll need to rent and hire someone to run a tractor/tiller/disc for me at some point and maybe help with the spraying of molasses and humus to jump start the "dry lots" that used to grow grass. Drop me any good reliable and experienced farmer's names you know - that aren't too busy cutting hay.

Thanks again for all of your support and emails! HE is my lawyer - and that is better than any one I could have hired! I'll let ya'll know what happens.


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 23, 2005 12:40 am 
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I'm kind of with Bluestem. If you sprayed with good compost tea I don't think there would be any bad guys left to measure or remediate. The tea is the remediation.

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 Post subject: Saga continued...
PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 2:36 pm 
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Spoke with Marie the other day and she is still waiting for some authority organization or legal entity to help. No such luck. Mediation hearing has been postponed to mid-September, and she still isn't' comfortable letting the horses out on her property because she swears there is blue-green (poisonous) algae in her pond.

She made the comment - and I have to agree - that if this had spilled into the pond at the nearby park, or even her front yard, there would have been a LOT more help cleaning up and she'd have gotten someone's attention a lot faster. So here we are on month #3 and no resolution. Not a fun thing, kids.

The ducks seem to be okay so far so that's a blessing. They're finding enough to eat without getting sick, anyway. She's spending a fortune on water for the other animals, however.

Just wanted to update you on our compadre. Keep your thinking caps on.
Kathe :D


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:39 pm 
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Here are a couple of thoughts to remember! First e-coli or fecal coliform live in the intentional tract of mamals. Their existance outside of that environment is short lived, and after 3 months...the e-coli from that spill are dead. Second, the bigger problem is nutrients (BOD) that is usedby the mico-organisms as food. These nutrients will last for weeks or months in the soil and redeposit or migrate after rainfall events. The basic problem is, that with increased levels of bug food (nutrients) there will be a prolonged increase of bugs. In the hot summer like this, those bugs will consume the oxygen in the water and suffocate most other life in the pond...namely fish and other aquatic life.

In my opinon there is only one answer...prolonged aeration as our moderator has already stated. A floating fountain is relatively cheap and simple to install. Many are 110 volt, low amperage and can be purchased over the internet. In the end, prolonged aeration can only inprove the situation.

waterman


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 22, 2005 9:19 pm 
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Just to clarify, I'm A moderator, not THE moderator. I moderate the Lawns forum and take the liberty to venture off premises occasionally (like daily).

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 Post subject: Thank You Friends!
PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2005 9:07 am 
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Well everyone, it looks like I may be in for a long haul regarding any kind of legal relief on this situation. A&M has indeed confirmed my fear and tested the water positive for Microsystis - the toxic blue/green algae - which is very toxic to livestock. I even lost a cat to liver problems which may have been a result of her drinking from that pond when she went on her little escapade a few months ago. Normally she's a house cat. But that is how Microsystis kills - basically, it breaks down the liver, and rather quickly. She was gone in 2 days. The algae is having a feeding frenzy on the excess nutrients that are present in the pond. It never seems to really go away. It keeps cycling. Even just draining and refilling the pond may not be enough without also dredging the layer of sludge that contains so much excess organic matter. Phosphorus is present and is not one of the water soluable or leaching type nutrients and it is apparently one of the key food sources of this alga. I've been working with both The Pond Medics and Medina regarding a solution other than draining the water, etc. And so far the algaecide put out barely put a dent in it. I know, I know, but dead horses are not something any of us would have wanted to hear about and we were hoping it would be a quick solution to get those horses back out on the pasture. The aquatic life in the pond is gone for the most part anyway, and Trent used the most mild aglaecide around. However, after less than 48 hours, the blue green algae was back just as it was before the application. I wish I would have had a nutrient content test first - then we may have gone with the algae degraders first, then down the road the algacide if still needed. Live and learn. I'm looking to plant some NON INVASIVE water type plants to help use up nutrients, too. But I don't want a pond full of lillies or cat tails. I had a wonderfully balanced livestock pond and that is what I want back. I don't want to trade phosphorus for a jungle. :?

Legally, I really need to keep it to a minimum as for my comments on the mediation because it is still in litigation and potential profesional testimony witnesses may read this board. But, basically what happened in mediation was that no one really wanted to claim responsibility for the spill and my damages - forget your logic and basic good neighbor thinking it doesn't apply in a mediation meeting where it is all about money - and until the TCEQ's arm of authority and the courts enforce things - I can't do much.

So, for now, I'm going to run over 300 feet of fencing to keep the horses clear of the pond. Was hoping not to have to do all that, but looks like it will be awhile before anything else happens and those horses need to get out of the back yard! 1000 lb lawnmowers come with a unique list of drawbacks! :shock: I've got some input from a rancher friend in Stephenville regarding the most economical way to do that with hot wire. Anyone knowing of the cheapest source of t-posts and rolls of hot wire/clips, etc., please reply. I'll keep treating the pond with Medina's algae degrader every week, hope for fast breakdown of the organic matter in the water - and try to get back to life. I've sprayed the area with Medina's soil activator to help break down the nutrients on the soil/shoreline and in the water, too. Hopefully, in about 9 months, after winter and more algae degrader in the spring, we can turn out into the pond again. I know the pond will eventually recover - one way or another - and it is time for the law to take over the other stuff. Fortunately, it looks like I have secured a law firm to help me. :D They only recently got familiar with the details of the case so I'm not sure if they will take the case, but the lawyer that came was very supportive in the mediation. It may be more costly to fight the case in court than the claim is worth.

But now, I have a horse boarding and gardening business to re-build. Thank you everyone so much for your support and prayers. I have learned a lot through this and hope others can learn from my distress. I hate to think of this happening to anyone else, but if rural and urban life continue to collide - it is bound to happen again and again. All we can do is be the best neighbors we can be and keep an eye on our properties. God Bless Everyone!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:00 am 
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EG-
I know Trent and have confidence in whatever he may recommend. I also recommend Medina products so it sounds like you are in good hands. You might also try something that worked for us in our small backyard pond. We added pond cleaner from Alliance (basically cornmeal) and it starved out the phosporus, thus clearing the pond of algae.
Go to Tractor Supply, they have fencing material that looks like a roll of tape hung on r-bar that can be electrified with a battery, avoiding the need for a more expensive fence of t-posts and wire. Is that what your farmer friend recommended?
Tony M


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:48 am 
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Thanks Tony, actually, just the regular ole' hot wire is what he suggested. Said it has a better zap! :shock: and we are not dealing with mares getting to studs or my neighbor's yard. We're talking toxic water so I don't want to take any chances. Once or twice is all it should take to keep them clear of the fence line. I have hot wire up in a few other places, too so I can run it off the same box. I'll use one strand of barbless - for the horses' sake - just in case the power goes down or a line gets grounded out from a branch or something. I had a $300+ vet bill on barbed wire - that was enough.

I've got over 2 acre feet to treat and with the last 2" of rain a few weeks ago, I'm sure it is a little more now. Do you know how much of the corn meal product I'd need for that size? Those pond packs are sure convienent, but till someone else starts picking up the tab - I need to watch my budget. Thanks for the support Tony.

M


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:53 am 
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The last big pond I did was about 1.5 acres and it stayed clear all summer with 2 or 3 applications at 150lbs/acre. If you have floating algae you may have to move some of it away to get the cornmeal into the water. Or, Howard recommends sinking bags that allow the cornmeal to leach out.
BTY, when treating a backyard pond the pond cleaner is great. When doing acreage, buy whatever you can afford.
Tony M


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