Wis. AG obtains judgment over manure spill

By Bryan Cohen | Dec 7, 2011

Van Hollen

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a judgment against a Barron County feeding operation on Tuesday that requires it to pay $34,000 in restitution, fees, forfeitures and costs.

The Barron County Circuit Court entered the judgment on Monday against Norswiss Farms Inc. of Rice Lake for alleged violations of its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The judgment requires the company to pay $2,000 to the Department of Justice for its fees, $10,000 in restitution to the Department of Natural Resources and $22,000 in forfeitures, mandatory court costs and surcharges.

On April 29, 2009, staff members of the DNR responded to a report of a manure spill at Norswiss Farms. In addition to the manure spill, the DNR staff members allegedly observed silage leachate overflowing a leachate collection system catch basin into a grassy waterway. The leachate eventually discharged into Barker Creek, which is a water of the state. Barker Creek water samples indicated elevated levels of biochemical oxygen demand, ammonia and phosphorus. Norswiss Farms' WPDES permit does not allow it to discharge silage leachate or manure into state waters.

Norswiss Farms allegedly failed to provide the DNR with verbal notification of the manure spill within 24 hours of the spill. It also allegedly failed to provide the DNR either written or verbal notification of the leachate discharge. Neglecting to notify the DNR of these discharges is a violation of the company's WPDES permit.

On June 11, 2009, Norswiss Farms reported to the DNR that its manure holding pit overflowed due to operator error causing the spillage of approximately 5,000 gallons of manure. Norswiss Farms later recovered approximately 4,000 gallons of the material. An unknown quantity of the manure was eventually discharged into Barker Creek.

On Aug. 27, 2009, the contract manure hauler of Norswiss Farms allegedly spread manure onto the hillside of a harvested snap bean field. The manure slid off the field and into a wetland representing the headwaters to Barker Creek. Norswiss removed approximately 8,000 gallons of manure from the wetland.

On April 21, 2010, Norswiss Farms' contract manure hauler allegedly spread manure immediately adjacent to a grassy waterway that eventually dischargesdinto Barker Creek and allowed manure to pond in a field. Both the spread and the discharge are violations of Norswiss Farms' WPDES permit.

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