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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring Barron County Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation to Pay $34,000 in Forfeitures, Restitution, Fees, and Costs

 

MADISON — On December 5, 2011, the Barron County Circuit Court entered a judgment against Norswiss Farms, Inc., of Rice Lake, requiring it to pay $10,000 in restitution to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), $2,000 to the Department of Justice for its fees, and $22,000 in forfeitures, mandatory court costs and surcharges, for violations of its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit.

 

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

 

Norswiss Farms failed to provide the DNR verbal notification of the manure spill within twenty-four hours of the spill and it failed to provide DNR either verbal or written notification of the leachate discharge. Failure to notify the DNR of these discharges is a violation of Norswiss Farms' WPDES permit.

 

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

 

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

On April 21, 2010, Norswiss Farms' contract manure hauler spread manure immediately adjacent to a grassy waterway that ultimately discharges into Barker Creek and allowed manure to pond in a field, both of which are violations of Norswiss Farms' WPDES permit.

 

Assistant Attorney General Cynthia R. Hirsch, with assistance from Department of Justice volunteer attorney Bradley J. Motl, represented the State.

Copies of the Civil Complaint, Judgment, and the Stipulation and Order for Judgment are available at the following links: