EPA Region 7 has taken a series of civil enforcement actions against three beef feedlot operations in Iowa for violations of the Clean Water Act, as part of a continuing enforcement emphasis aimed at ending harmful discharges of pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) into the region’s rivers and streams.
“In some instances, we are finding harmful bacteria such as E.coli in wastewater discharged by feedlots at levels that are exponentially higher than the levels at which EPA permits municipal wastewater treatment systems to discharge their treated wastewater,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “This is just one measure of the harm that can come when feedlots fail to operate within the law.”
Runoff from CAFOs may contain such pollutants as pathogens and sediment, as well as nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can harm aquatic life and impact water quality.
Of the three most recent enforcement actions, one involves a civil penalty against a CAFO for failure to comply with its national Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Bruce Feedlot, of Hastings, Iowa, has agreed to pay a $31,573 civil penalty for its unauthorized discharges of pollutants to Indian Creek and its tributaries in Mills County, Iowa. EPA’s settlement with Bruce Feedlot is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.
The remaining two enforcement actions involve administrative compliance orders issued to medium-sized CAFOs, which are feedlots that confine between 300 and 999 cattle. EPA has documented significant water quality problems associated with medium CAFOs and is making enforcement at these operations a priority:
Groeneweg Farm, of Rock Valley, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by October 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into an unnamed tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa.
Gradert/Cla-Don/Winterfeld Feedlot, of Ireton, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by October 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into Six Mile Creek in Sioux County, Iowa.