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Thistle Dairy, LLC of Winnebago County Ordered to Pay $80,000 for Violations of State Water Pollution Laws


MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Justice has filed and settled a lawsuit against Thistle Dairy, LLC, and its owner/operators Jim Thompson and James T. Thompson, for violations of state water pollution control laws at the Thistle Dairy operation in Winnebago County.


Thistle Dairy, a large dairy operation that generates approximately 18 million gallons of manure per year, is classified as a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation and is subject to a facility-specific pollution discharge permit.  The complaint alleges that during the spring of 2011, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) documented Thistle Dairy violating the following conditions of its permit: failure to maintain adequate waste storage capacity to prevent overflows and discharges to waters of the state; failure to notify the DNR when its manure storage facilities exceeded their maximum operating level; failure to take preventative maintenance actions to divert uncontaminated runoff from manure and waste water storage and containment areas and outdoor animal lots; failure to collect and treat contaminated runoff; and failure to follow nutrient management restrictions when land applying waste.


The DNR initiated its enforcement action in June 2011, and Thistle Dairy responded by significantly increasing its manure storage capacity, re-engineering aspects of its production area to prevent discharges to tile lines, and moving its waste feed and manure storage piles to prevent future discharges to waters of the state.


Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Thistle Dairy has agreed to pay penalties, costs and assessments totaling $80,000 for the violations in the complaint.  The settlement agreement also requires that Thistle Dairy document the completion of its feed storage area leachate collection and runoff control system this summer. 


“Wisconsin's pollution discharge elimination program relies on permitted operations to ensure compliance with permit terms and to ensure that manure and waste water is properly managed,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that all of Wisconsin's large dairy operations comply with the law.”


Assistant Attorney General Diane L. Milligan prosecuted the case.  The settlement was approved by Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Karen L. Seifert.


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


Stipulation and Order for Judgment