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Iowa dairy farm fined by EPA for Clean Water Act violations

This news story was published on October 3, 2014.
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Iowa farmland

Iowa farmland

WASHINGTON – An inspection by the Environmental Protection Agency at a Northern Iowa dairy farm found Clean Water Act violations, and a fine was imposed.

As a result of an inspection of northeastern Iowa livestock operations by the EPA Region 7 staff last spring, the owner of E&M Farms, Inc., has agreed to pay a $7,500 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its dairy operation near Ossian.

EPA’s inspection and sampling of E&M Farms, Inc., documented pollutant discharges from the 500-head dairy facility to Dry Branch Creek, a perennial stream. The pollutants observed during the inspection came from outdoor production areas, including outdoor confinement pens. Manure and process wastewater from these areas flowed through a culvert to the stream. Because the discharge was facilitated by a man-made conveyance, the dairy operation met the definition of a medium Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) and was subject to the CWA and federal regulation.

Manure and wastewater discharges from concentrated animal feeding operations and their land application areas can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways.

Many dairies in Iowa have not sought CWA permits because they claim they do not discharge pollutants. For some dairies, however, improper management of outdoor areas can result in significant CWA violations. Also, dairies that confine from 200 to 699 cattle, and beef operations that confine from 300 to 999 cattle, need to evaluate their flow paths toward streams. The presence of a man-made conveyance facilitating discharges makes them subject to regulation as CAFOs.

As part of a consent agreement with EPA, E&M Farms has certified that it is now in compliance with the Clean Water Act.


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