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Lehmann Farms, LLC of Vernon County Ordered to Take Action and to Pay $15,000 for Violations of State Water Pollution Laws

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that his office has obtained a judgment and order against Lehmann Farms, LLC, for violating state water pollution control laws by intentionally discharging manure from its storage facility into a ravine that led to a stream, and by failing to report the discharge.

 

According to the complaint filed by the Department of Justice at the request of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the owners/operators of Lehmann Farms hooked a pump hose onto the lower valve of their manure storage unit in the middle of the night on June 6, 2013, and discharged approximately 20,000 to 30,000 gallons of manure into an intermittent stream that drains to Wire Hollow Creek and ultimately to the North Fork of the Bad Axe River.  They chose to discharge the manure instead of securing additional lands or temporarily renting space in another farmer's storage facility.  They did not apply for a discharge permit, and they did not notify DNR after the discharge took place.  Instead, the DNR learned of the discharge when it received a citizen complaint and traced the manure back to Lehmann Farms.

 

Lehmann Farms operates a 250-280 cow dairy near Viroqua.  Facilities that house more than 700 dairy cows are defined as large Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and are required to obtain and maintain a facility-specific pollution discharge permit.  As a medium-sized facility, Lehmann Farms has not been covered by a discharge permit.  The judgment and order provides that Lehmann Farms will apply for a discharge permit by June 1, 2014, and this permit will require and help ensure that the farm secures and maintains adequate manure storage capacity into the future.  It is anticipated that Lehmanns will construct a second manure storage facility at a cost of approximately $300,000, which should ensure that they will always have enough storage capacity.  Lehmann Farms also will pay $15,000 in forfeitures, court costs and surcharges, and state investigation and enforcement costs, including attorneys’ fees, for the violations alleged in the complaint. 

 

“It is against the law for farms to discharge manure into Wisconsin's waters,” Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure compliance with the law and to help prevent future violations.”

 

Assistant Attorney General Diane L. Milligan prosecuted the case.  The Judgment and Order were approved by Vernon County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Rosborough.

 

Copies of the Summons, Complaint, Judgment, and the Stipulation and Order for Judgment are available here.