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TURTLE LAKE - Lake Country Dairy, Inc., which owns and operates a cheese production facility in Turtle Lake, has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle state claims under Wisconsin's water pollution laws. The judgment resolves charges that Lake Country Dairy failed to properly manage its discharges of wastewater into the Village of Turtle Lake wastewater treatment plant since 2006.
Wisconsin law requires manufacturers such as Lake Country Dairy, Inc. to pre-treat wastewater resulting in discharges that do not contain pollutants at levels that contribute to a violation of the local water treatment plant's permit and do not have a pH below 5.0 unless the treatment plant is specifically designed to handle acidic waste. The complaint charges that Lake Country Dairy operated in violation of state water pollution statutes since 2006 by causing violations of the Village of Turtle Lake's treatment plant permit on at least 13 occasions, and that it discharged wastewater with a pH below 5.0 on at least 15 occasions.
According to the complaint, Lake Country Dairy's discharges of wastewater into the Village of Turtle Lake's wastewater treatment plant where at unacceptable pH levels and in excessive amounts, compromising Turtle Lake's ability to remove organic pollutants and increasing its operating costs. Lake Country Dairy's discharges also threatened the fish populations and aquatic vegetation in the Red Cedar River watershed into which the Village treatment plant's effluent flows.
After it was referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution, Lake Country Dairy installed a pH equalization system it estimates cost approximately $600,000. As part of the parties' settlement, Lake Country Dairy agreed to provide the Village with projections of its wastewater volume and strength, to notify the Village of Turtle Lake of any planned expansions or modifications that may affect its wastewater output, and to modify its piping so that all of its waste is accounted for.
"The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin's citizens and natural resources are protected through compliance with the law." Said Attorney General Van Hollen.
Assistant Attorney General Diane L. Milligan prosecuted the case. Barron County Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Doyle approved the settlement.