Judge rules manure discharged illegally, imposes $10K fine

Bryan Cohen Nov. 18, 2011, 12:48pm


GARNER, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Wednesday that a Hancock County judge has penalized a Forest City cattle producer $10,000 following an allegedly illegal discharge of manure last year.

Monroe Branstad owns and operates a cattle feedlot and confinement feeding operation located in Hancock County. A petition filed Tuesday by the state alleged that on April 16, 2010, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources received a citizen complaint that manure pumped from the basin and that location was being applied to a nearby field though a hose.

The DNR alleged that approximately 900,000 gallons of manure were removed from the basin and that manure flowed across the field to a tile intake. The manure then allegedly flowed to a drainage ditch and tributary to the Winnebago River, causing elevated levels of chemical oxygen demand and ammonia. No fish were observed dead or alive. The petition also alleged water quality standard violations, failure to submit quarterly and annual reports, and failure to maintain manure application records.

Branstad admitted the illegal discharge of manure but said in the consent decree that the violation was unintentional. Along with the penalty, the judge enjoined Branstad from further violations.

Branstad's facility has fewer than 1,000 head of cattle in open feedlots and has approximately 500 head of cattle in confinement buildings. Manure from the confinement buildings is usually stored in below-building pits. The facility also includes a settled open feedlot effluent basin with a six million gallon design capacity.

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. The state alleged the discharge caused a massive fish kill in the Winnebago River. Branstad admitted the illegal discharge of manure but denied responsibility for the fish kill. The state's claim for restitution is still in litigation.

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