EPA Region 7 has taken a series of civil enforcement actions against six beef feedlot operations in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska for violations of the Clean Water Act, as part of an increased emphasis aimed at ending harmful discharges of pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) into the region’s rivers and streams.
“EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has made it clear that the protection of America’s waters is an enforcement priority for the Agency,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “Here in the heartland of America, good agricultural stewards take care of our valuable waters. EPA will use civil enforcement, including penalties when appropriate, to stop illegal practices that pose risks to human health, impact water quality, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways.”
“Enforcing the clean water laws recognizes that responsible operators have made major investments in pollution control. EPA and our state partners are working across the region to secure compliance with the Clean Water Act, and to end these types of harmful violations by feedlot operators.”
Runoff from CAFOs contains pollutants such as pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, sediment and ammonia, as well as nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can harm aquatic life and impact water quality.
Of the six enforcement actions, two include penalties where CAFOs failed to comply with their National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. The causes of the violations were addressed in previously issued administrative compliance orders. The two proposed penalty settlements with the CAFOs listed below are each subject to a 40-day public comment period before they may be finalized.
Jewell County Feeders, LLC, Mankato, Kan., has agreed to pay a $10,800 civil penalty for NPDES permit violations associated with improper stockpiling of manure. These violations risked discharges of pollutants to Limestone Creek and its tributaries in Jewell County, Kan.
Platte Valley Feeders, LLC, Kearney, Neb., has agreed to pay a $20,000 civil penalty for NPDES permit violations associated with land application of manure and waste water from its storage lagoons at rates that exceeded nutrient management plan requirements. The over-application of manure created a significant risk that pollutants would reach the Wood River in Buffalo County, Neb.
The remaining four enforcement actions are administrative compliance orders issued to the following large and medium CAFOs. Large CAFOs are cattle feedlots with greater than 1,000 head of cattle, and medium CAFOs are feedlots with between 300 and 999 head of cattle that are required to apply for NPDES permits or cease pollutant discharges. EPA has documented significant water quality problems associated with medium CAFOs and is making enforcement at these CAFOs a priority.
Sandhill Farm, Inc., Rock Valley, Iowa, must immediately reduce the number of cattle it confines below 1,000, apply for an NPDES permit, and complete wastewater controls at its facility to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into a tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa.
Kooima Custom Feed, Rock Valley, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and implement a series of wastewater controls at its facilities to end unauthorized discharges of wastewater into a tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa.
Albert Rens, Ireton, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls to end unauthorized discharges of wastewater into a tributary of the West Branch of Floyd Creek in Sioux County, Iowa.
Darwin Rus, Rock Valley, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls to end unauthorized discharges of wastewater into a tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa.