United States Reaches Settlement With Meadowvale Dairy of Rock Valley, Iowa, for Clean Water Act Violations
Meadowvale Dairy, LLC, has agreed to pay a civil penalty and take actions to prevent illegal discharges to Iowa streams in compliance with the Clean Water Act, officials of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today. Meadowvale Dairy operates multiple concentrated animal feeding operations in Rock Valley, Iowa.
Since 2002, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has identified multiple violations of the dairy’s two National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, which included fish kills in tributaries that lead to the Big Sioux River in 2004 and 2009. State and EPA inspections discovered evidence of additional unauthorized discharges of stormwater runoff into the tributaries in 2013 and 2014.
“This settlement sends a clear message that concentrated animal feeding operations must comply with Clean Water Act in order to prevent future discharges into our waters,” said John C. Cruden, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The agreement requires remedial measures to reduce pollutants and protect aquatic ecosystems in the short term, as well as third party auditing to ensure long-term compliance with the terms of the consent decree and the controlling permits.”
“The vast majority of animal feeding operations adhere to the law and actively seek to be responsible stewards of the environment,” said Mark Hague, EPA Region 7 regional administrator. “The settlement today helps ensure a level playing field for all operators by holding those who violate environmental regulations accountable.”
“The scope of the injunctive relief and the size of the civil penalty are a clear signal to Iowa’s CAFOs about the importance of compliance. This settlement demonstrates the Department of Justice's commitment to enforcing the Clean Water Act as enacted by Congress” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa Kevin Techau.
As outlined in the proposed consent decree lodged today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, in addition to civil penalties Meadowvale Dairy will be required to implement injunctive relief that includes short-term and long-term corrective measures to prevent unpermitted discharges of pollutants into tributaries. Injunctive relief includes:
- Retain an independent third party to develop and perform an audit, verifying compliance with the requirements of the proposed consent decree.
- Comply with all requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, including adherence to its Nutrient Management Plan. A Nutrient Management Plan typically outlines management and conservation practices to optimize productivity of the operation while conserving nutrients and protecting the environment. It may include practices such as appropriate manure and fertilizer storage and handling methods, managing the diet of the animals, and/or irrigation practices.
- Ensure all production areas are designed, constructed and operated to prevent unpermitted discharges with an exclusion for a 25-year, 24-hour storm event.
EPA estimates that changes made by Meadowvale required by this proposed settlement will result in a reduction of approximately 200,000 pounds of pollutants discharged annually. These reductions help to protect aquatic ecosystems, decrease sedimentation and improve overall water quality. The settlement also requires Meadowvale Dairy to pay $160,000 in civil penalties for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to mismanagement of animal wastes.
Meadowvale Dairy operates two NPDES-permitted large concentrated animal feeding operations, confining approximately 10,000 head of cattle on a combined 185 acres in Rock Valley. The operation includes four locations – North Site and South Site (both permitted), a calf barn/hut, and a satellite concrete manure storage structure.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Meadowvale Dairy would be required to pay the monetary penalty within 30 days of the court's approval of the settlement.