The owner of two mink farms west of Glacier has been fined nearly $50,000 for letting water contaminated with manure enter local creeks, according to the Washington Department of Ecology.
Ecology inspectors found water contaminated with mink manure and feed draining directly into ditches that flow into nearby salmon-bearing creeks in December 2012 at Marr's Black Plush Ranch, 9471 and 9580 Mount Baker Highway.
The farms' owner was fined $48,000 and ordered to apply for state and federal water-quality permits and to properly contain and manage wastewater from the farms.
Water samples taken from the properties showed fecal coliform bacteria levels 240 times higher than the state limit. There were thick layers of the bacteria on the property and in the ditches, a sign of ongoing contamination, according to the Department of Ecology.
The bacteria can harm fish and other aquatic life by depleting oxygen from the water, and can create health risks for humans.
The creeks, Hedrick and Cornell, are home to five species of salmon and two to three species of trout, and contain prime spawning habitat. Two of the fish species - Chinook salmon and steelhead trout - are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
This isn't the first time the farms have been fined for contamination issues. In 1999, the Department of Ecology fined the owner $24,000. The recent investigation found contamination was coming from the same sources documented in the previous case and that past improvements had not been maintained.
Dale Marr was listed as the president of Marr's Black Plush Ranch on the Secretary of State website. Marr didn't return a call for comment Monday, April 1.
Reach ZOE FRALEY at email@example.com or call 756-2803.