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Judge Penalizes Forest City Cattle Producer for Manure Discharge

GARNER – A Hancock County judge Tuesday penalized a Forest City cattle producer $10,000 following an illegal discharge of manure last year from his cattle feedlot operation into a tributary of the Winnebago River.

Monroe Branstad owns and operates a cattle feedlot and confinement feeding operation in Hancock County. The facility has fewer than 1,000 head of cattle in open feedlots and approximately 500 head of cattle in confinement buildings. Manure from the confinement buildings is stored in below building pits. The facility also includes a settled open feedlot effluent basin with a design capacity of six million gallons.

A petition filed Tuesday by the state alleged that on April 16, 2010, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a citizen complaint that manure pumped from the basin was being applied through a hose to a nearby field. The DNR investigated and determined that approximately 900,000 gallons of manure had been removed from the basin and that manure had flowed across the field to a tile intake which then flowed to a drainage ditch and tributary to the Winnebago River, causing elevated levels of ammonia and chemical oxygen demand. No fish alive or dead were observed.

The petition also alleged water quality standard violations, failure to maintain manure application records, and failure to submit quarterly and annual reports.

Branstad admitted the illegal discharge of manure but stated in the consent decree that the violation was unintentional. In addition to the penalty, the judge enjoined Branstad from further violations.

Branstad previously entered into a consent decree assessing a $10,205 civil penalty for an illegal discharge of sweet corn silage leachate at the same location in August 2008, which the state alleged caused a massive fish kill in the Winnebago River. Branstad had admitted the illegal discharge of manure but denied responsibility for the fish kill and the state’s claim for restitution is still being litigated.

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