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Clean Water Act (CWA): Agriculture-Related Enforcement Cases 2001 - 2007

The following are agriculture-related enforcement cases pertaining to the Clean Water Act.  This information is provided for reference. Over time, links to news items may become unavailable. In these cases the item will remain listed, but no link will be provided. Also, please be aware that the information in any particular article may be outdated or superseded by additional information. More Clean Water Act enforcement cases can be found under the Animal Feeding Operations enforcement cases.

The following links are provided for navigation to CWA enforcement cases below by year for 2001 through 2007:

CWA Enforcement Cases for 2007
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2006
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2005
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2004
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2002
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2001

CWA Enforcement Cases for 2007
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2006
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2005
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2004
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2002
CWA Enforcement Cases for 2001

December 6, 2007

EPA Orders Idaho Wetlands To Be Restored
Two residents near Priest Lake, Idaho, have been ordered by EPA to restore damaged wetlands on their property near Lamb Creek, Bonner County, Idaho. EPA issued the residents an administrative compliance order to resolve a Clean Water Act violation for unauthorized dredge and fill activities that occurred in spring 2007. The order requires the violators to either remove fill, return wetland soil, and replant the site with wetland vegetation no later than April 30, 2008, or pay fines as high as $32,500 per day. EPA complaint alleges that the resident used heavy equipment to fill approximately one half acre of wetlands on their property, located at 1604 Kalispell Bay Road near Lamb Creek, Bonner County, Idaho, without a required Clean Water Act permit. According to documents associated with the case, the resident was filling the site to create a building site on their property. According to James Werntz, EPA’s Idaho state director, this action demonstrates the importance of securing the proper permits before working in wetlands.

"Wetlands are vital links in nature’s ability to purify water and provide fish and wildlife habitat," said Werntz. "Responsible property development includes obtaining the proper permits in advance and minimizing environmental harm during and after the project."

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November 19, 2007

EPA Orders California Farm To Restore Two Sites Along Creek
EPA ordered Muranaka Farm, Inc. and Tom A. Staben to restore two sites along the Calleguas Creek in Ventura County, Calif., for discharging dredged and fill material – including rock, soil and debris - into the creek without U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits, a violation of the Clean Water Act.

"The Calleguas Creek is an important coastal stream in Southern California and has been the focus of extensive watershed planning efforts," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. "We will oversee restoration of these damaged sites and protection of this importance water resource and ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.”

Failure to comply with the order could result in fines of up to $32,500 per day, per violation. Somis-based contractor Tom A. Staben discharged dredged and fill materials into Calleguas Creek between October 2005 and November 2006 without the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorization. On an adjacent property, Moorpark-based Muranaka Farm, Inc. discharged unauthorized dredged and fill materials into the creek between September 2005 and November 2006.

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November 2, 2007

Settlement Reached in Virginia Wetlands Case
The U.S. Department of Justice lodged three consent decrees last week settling a civil action by EPA against six defendants for alleged violations of a wetlands protection section of the Clean Water Act. The settlement, reached with Sea Bay Development Corp., Beechtree Park, Inc., Green Sea Farms, LLC, Elwood H. Perry, Frank T. Williams' Farms, Inc. and Ferrell’s Backhoe Service, Inc., resolves allegations that the defendants discharged and/or controlled and directed the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States at an approximately 1,560-acre property in Chesapeake, Va., without a permit.

The property, located west of Johnstown Road, east of Shillelagh Road, and south of the Whispering Pines subdivision, is known as the Sea Bay Site or Green Sea Farm. The consent decree for Elwood H. Perry and Ferrell’s Backhoe Service, Inc. requires payment of a civil penalty of $65,000 to the United States. The consent decree for Frank T. Williams' Farms, Inc. requires payment of a civil penalty of $35,000 to the United States. The consent decree for Sea Bay Development Corp., Beechtree Park, Inc. and Green Sea Farms, LLC requires restoration and mitigation on approximately 873 acres of wetlands on the site, which will be preserved in perpetuity under a conservation easement or deed restriction. In addition, that consent decree allows the discharge of dredged or fill material in the remainder of the Sea Bay Site, subject to certain limitations.

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July 16, 2007

Clean Water Act Settlement Preserves Wetlands in North Georgia
EPA announced the settlement of a Clean Water Act (CWA)Section 404 violation with Barnsley Inn & Gardens, L.P., owner of a golf and convention resort near Adairsville, Georgia. Barnsley allegedly filled more than 5 acres of wetlands adjacent to Dry Creek during construction of a water hazard and golf course, without obtaining a permit required under the CWA. The enforcement action was a result of an inappropriate claim under the CWA's farm pond exemption. A farm pond is excluded from Section 404 permitting requirements when the pond has an agricultural purpose, is sized according to its stated need, and does not adversely affect downstream or upstream waters. Barnsley's Buffalo Pond was originally characterized as a farm pond, but was constructed to function as a golf water hazard and fishing amenity. The pond did not meet the purpose and scope of the farm pond exemption, and led to EPA's initiation of the enforcement action.

Under the terms of the settlement, Barnsley will conduct onsite restoration work to return the natural flow of Dry Creek, a Georgia designated secondary trout stream. Barnsley also will pay a civil penalty of $15,000; complete a Supplemental Environmental Project by purchasing and transferring $100,000 in rights to wetland and river front property for perpetual preservation; and pursue an after-the-fact Section 404 permit from the Army Corps of Engineers with appropriate mitigation to authorize remaining impacts. Two parcels of property are slated for preservation by the Barnsley Supplemental Environmental Project. Ten acres of land will be used to buffer the Etowah River from the effects of runoff pollution, sedimentation, and other impacts from upland development. EPA cites sedimentation as one of the most damaging environmental processes on Piedmont waterways. Twenty-eight acres of Drummond Swamp, a wetland that is part of the Etowah system, will also be preserved. Drummond Swamp is one of only three places in the country where a very rare plant, the seaside alder or Alnus maritima (Marsh.), is found. Chattowah Open Land Trust will hold easements on both properties to protect them from future development or misuse.

EPA hopes that this and other enforcement actions in the area will demonstrate the importance of obtaining CWA permits before initiating work in waters of the United States. CWA permits reduce and mitigate the adverse effects of pollutants on Georgia waters, which are critical to maintaining Georgia's fish and wildlife resources and providing clean and safe drinking water to the public.

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June 21, 2007

EPA Reaches $10,000 Settlement With Pacific Topsoils, Inc., for Wetlands Violations
Pacific Topsoils, Inc., located just southeast of Mill Creek, Washington and EPA have reached a $10,000 settlement over violations of the Clean Water Act. In 2002, Forman and Pacific Topsoils, Inc., discharged fill material into 0.32 acres of wetlands on the east side of 35th Southeast, near Mill Creek, WA without a permit, according to EPA. The impacted wetlands are adjacent to Thomas Lake and Penny Creek. Pacific Topsoils, Inc. removed the fill material and restored the site at the direction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2004. EPA had previously cited Forman and Pacific Topsoils, Inc., for a CWA violation in 1992. According to Tom Eaton, EPA’s Washington Operations Director in Olympia, wetlands provide significant wildlife habitat as well as provide benefits to neighboring property owners. Anyone working in wetlands must obey the law or face potential fines. “Protecting Washington's shrinking wetlands is a top priority for EPA," said Eaton. "Construction in a wetland should be avoided if at all possible, if any construction is proposed, it should only be undertaken with great care after securing the necessary permits.”

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June 18, 2007

EPA Orders Rohrer Partnership To Restore Powell County Wetlands
Region 8 has issued an administrative order to the Rohrer Family Limited Partnership requiring them to correct the environmental damage they caused to approximately six acres of wetlands adjacent to Cottonwood Creek and Douglas Creek in Powell County, Mont. EPA will require the Rohrers to fully restore the wetlands that they damaged.

"EPA is taking this action to protect the environment and to send the message that compliance with the intent and requirements of the Clean Water Act is mandatory," said Mike Risner, EPA Region 8 Acting Assistant Regional Administrator.

The wetland destruction occurred during autumn 2006 when the Rohrers constructed two major drainage ditches and three lateral ditches totaling approximately 7,800 feet in length. Excavated material was discharged along the length of the ditches, filling approximately six acres of wetlands and indirectly impacting an unknown number of wetland acres by draining them. These destructive actions could have been avoided if the Rohrers had consulted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before commencing their activities. These wetlands serve as aquatic and wildlife habitat and play an important role in water quality improvement, water storage and retention and flood control. Damaging or destroying wetlands can lead to serious results such as increased flooding, a decline of water quality and extinction of species.

Cottonwood Creek and Douglas Creek are each perennial streams that are tributary to Nevada Creek, which is tributary to the Blackfoot River, which flows into the Clark Fork River, a navigable, interstate waterway. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, which include lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands. Property owners, contractors or developers planning to do work in such waters need to contact the Corps of Engineers’ regulatory office in Helena, Mont., at 406-441-1375 before they begin work to determine if they need a permit.

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May 21, 2007

EPA and Landowner Agree on Restoration of Kenai Salmon Rearing Stream
An owner of private land located just north of Beaver Loop Road, Kenai, Alaska and EPA have agreed on a strategy to restore a salmon rearing stream and nearby wetlands. EPA issued an Administrative Order to resolve a Clean Water Act violation for unauthorized dredging and fill activities that occurred in the summer of 2006. EPA's complaint alleges that the owner used heavy equipment to discharge excavated fill materials into wetlands for the purpose of diverting Boat Launch Creek to the northwestern boundary of his property without a required Clean Water Act permit. The agreement on a Restoration and Mitigation Work Plan to restore damaged wetlands near Boat Launch Creek includes:

According to Marcia Combes, EPA’s Director of Alaska Operations, this action demonstrates the importance of securing the proper permits before working in wetlands. "Our action in this case happens to coincide with the 17th anniversary of American Wetlands Month," Combes said. "The month of May is a special opportunity for EPA and our partners in the federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private sectors to emphasize wetlands and their role in the ecosystem. Wetlands protection is essential, since they are vital to our nation’s ecological, economic and social health."

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May 16, 2007

EPA and Idaho Produce Company Settle Waste Water Case
Magic Valley Produce, Inc, of Paul, Idaho, has reached a $60,000 settlement with EPA for violating its federal waste water discharge permit. During an EPA inspection of the plant on January 19, 2006, the inspector noted that the facility had failed to conduct required discharge sampling under its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. From November 2003 to January 2006, the Company accrued a very large number of "failure to sample" violations for the various pollutants in its discharge, which runs into the Snake River.

The pollutants that the company failed to sample for include: total suspended solids (TSS), pH, phosphorus, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), ammonia, nitrate-nitrite, and E. coli. The company had also violated its TSS limits. The company recently stopped discharging to surface waters.

According to Jim Werntz, EPA’s Idaho State Director, companies need to be diligent in conducting sampling to ensure that they are properly controlling their discharges. Without this information, EPA has no way of verifying that the permit limits are being met and that pollution is properly managed. "It is important for all companies to comply with their permits." said Werntz. "If they don’t, they face potential fines for the noncompliance." The NPDES permit program, a key part of the federal Clean Water Act, controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States.

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March 12, 2007

Puerto Rico Wetlands Will Be Preserved
A series of agreements announced by EPA mark a victory for the people and environment of Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico Land Authority and the Puerto Rico Office of Special Communities have agreed to protect and preserve nearly 700 acres of wetlands critical to Puerto Rico’s environment and to pay fines totaling $55,000 for violating the Clean Water Act. The entities were cited by EPA for illegally filling wetlands to build hundreds of improperly constructed homes in an area subject to frequent flooding and unsafe conditions in San Isidro, a barrio of Canovanas. The Municipality of Canovanas also agreed to pay a $25,000 fine for its role in the illegal filling of the San Isidro wetlands.

"Wetlands are a vital part of Puerto Rico’s environment and it is of crucial importance that we do all we can to preserve and protect them,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Through this settlement, EPA has helped permanently save a beautiful, natural area that might otherwise be eliminated in the future for residential or commercial development.” Under various agreements between EPA, the commonwealth and the municipality, 679 acres of mangroves and marsh located on the east side of Piñones forest and to the west of the Loiza River will be permanently preserved. The tract was formerly owned by the Puerto Rico Land Authority, and ownership is being transferred to the Puerto Rico Conservation Trust for preservation.

The penalties and the preservation of the 679 acres stem from a series of separate agreements with the agencies. For its failure to halt the illegal filling of the wetlands on its property in San Isidro, EPA is requiring the Puerto Rico Land Authority to pay penalties in the amount of $50,000 and enable the preservation of 345 acres out of the 679, costing the Land Authority $213,000 worth of property. For its part in supporting the illegal development, the Office of Special Communities will pay a penalty of $5,000 and enable the preservation of 39 acres of the wetlands, worth $24,000. For continuing to participate in the illegal filling of the wetlands in San Isidro despite being previously cited and fined, the Municipality of Canovanas will pay a penalty of $25,000. Also, to compensate for the loss of wetland in San Isidro over the past decade, the Puerto Rico Land Authority and the Office of Special Communities included an additional 300 acres of wetlands in the tract for preservation, bringing the total preservation to almost 700 acres.

Wetlands are a valuable resource that naturally filter chemical contaminants from our water and land and help control floods. Wetlands also nurture and sustain a vast array of bird, plant, aquatic and animal life. Damaging or eliminating wetlands can be devastating to the coastal ecosystem. Wetlands also provide recreational opportunities, aesthetic benefits, sites for research and education, and support fisheries. Anyone planning construction activities in wetlands or streams must contact the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers well in advance to obtain a permit.

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January 29, 2007

EPA Files Complaint Against Maine Dairy Farm To Require Compliance With Clean Water Standards
United States Attorney Paula D. Silsby and Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator for EPA's New England Office, announce that a civil complaint has been filed in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Maine against Country Acres Farm, Inc., for violating federal Clean Water Act requirements while operating a dairy farm, in Dixmont, Maine. EPA is seeking penalties and an injunction requesting the Court to enforce requirements to cease the farm’s unlawful discharge of manure and contaminated wastewater into nearby waters.

"The vast majority of New England farmers manage their waste streams with care and operate in compliance with environmental rules”, said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office. "However, in this case, where Country Acres Farm showed an egregious disregard for the law and failed to take necessary actions to stop its manure wastes from impacting nearby waterways, EPA has found that federal court oversight is warranted.”

"This enforcement action underscores the principle that everyone needs to follow the law and respect our natural resources," stated David P. Littell, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The case was brought after EPA, DEP and Maine Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources (DAFRR), made repeated efforts over several years to bring the farm into compliance with water pollution laws. The action originated from observations by staff from the DEP and DAFRR last October, when investigators observed manure contamination coming from Country Acre’s 250-300 herd dairy farm discharging to Martin Stream. Water samples taken at the time showed highly elevated levels of contaminants, including ammonia, solids, and elevated biological oxygen demand, in Martin stream.

The complaint cites serious potential water quality impacts that may be caused by such contamination including: widespread mortality to fish populations; compromising the safety of receiving waters for contact recreation; impairment of the macroinvertebrate community (which is a critical source of food for the fish community); and potential loss of fish spawning habitat. Over the last four months, DEP issued three separate state “Notices of Violation,” the farm’s provisional Livestock Operating Permit was revoked by DAFRR, and EPA issued a federal Administrative Compliance Order in Dec. 2006. The filing of the federal complaint comes as a result of close cooperation between EPA, DEP, DAFRR and the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). State investigators documented several other occasions that storm water runoff, waste waters and manure had not been adequately contained in the farm’s manure pits, and has contaminated Martin Stream and wetlands adjacent to the farm. Inspectors observed evidence of discharges and documented that the facility’s controls were inadequate to prevent runoff of manure and wastewater from the barns and lagoon.

Country Acres Farm is considered a “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation” (CAFO) that is regulated under the federal Clean Water Act. The farm was issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit by Maine DEP on August 15, 2006, to regulate the discharge of manure and other pollutants that can be carried in the runoff from the farm and are known to contaminate streams, lakes and ponds. Manure and wastewater from CAFOs have the potential to contribute pollutants such as nitrogen, phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics and ammonia to the environment. Under the federal Clean Water Act, the facility faces fines of up to $32,500 per day of violation.

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January 26, 2007

Four Iowa Feedlots Ordered To Comply With Clean Water Act
EPA Region 7 has issued administrative compliance orders to four cattle feedlots in western Iowa for illegally discharging pollutants into Iowa creeks in violation of the Clean Water Act. The orders require these cattle feedlots to comply with the Clean Water Act by eliminating discharges of manure that violate the law. The four feedlots are Pithan Feedlot in Anthon; Lowell Vos Feedlot in Kingsley; Marion J Rus Feedlot near Rock Valley; and A to Z Feeders in Atlantic. They discharge to Big Creek, Elliot Creek, Rock Creek, and Indian Creek, respectively.

"Many feedlots in this vital Midwestern industry continually strive to achieve compliance and protect the environment. The message from EPA has been clear and consistent: producers need to move forward to comply with the Clean Water Act,” said John B. Askew, EPA Regional Administrator. “Together, we are working for a better future for agriculture, our environment, and the people of this region." The orders resulted from violations found during EPA compliance inspections and one inspection by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in 2006, which were part of a joint initiative by EPA and IDNR to determine compliance with the Clean Water Act. EPA and IDNR inspected a total of 50 feedlots. EPA works in close partnership with IDNR on these enforcement issues to protect Iowa water quality.

IDNR developed the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan (Iowa Plan) in 2001 with input from 11 organizations and agencies, including EPA and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. It launched a five-year enforcement moratorium by IDNR and EPA for feedlots that registered in the Iowa Plan and met specific compliance milestones. In return, the livestock industry agreed to use the moratorium to achieve full compliance with the Clean Water Act. The enforcement moratorium ended April 1, 2006, and EPA and IDNR began inspecting feedlots in May 2006. The compliance orders address only those activities these feedlots must undertake to correct the violations and stop further environmental damage. EPA may require additional compliance activities, as well as penalties, for these and other Iowa feedlots. Several hundred cattle feedlots in Iowa are regulated under the Clean Water Act, which requires large feedlots to prevent the discharge of all livestock runoff to protect water quality.

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January 10, 2007

Company Will Pay $1 Million Penalty To Resolve Clean Water Act Violations
M.G. Waldbaum Company, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Michael Foods Inc., has agreed to pay a $1.05 million penalty to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Water Act. The settlement, which is a joint federal-state effort, involves a large egg processing facility and seven associated poultry farms near the City of Wakefield, Neb. The civil penalty will be divided equally between the state and the federal government. The Clean Water Act violations concern allegations of overloading the wastewater treatment lagoons at the City of Wakefield’s publicly owned treatment works (POTW); discharging pollutants from a large pile of poultry waste into Logan Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) at its Husker Pride poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) (one of Waldbaum’s seven poultry farms); and improperly dumping process sludge waste from its egg processing facility at two of its other poultry farms rather than spreading on the ground in accordance with state standards.

As part of this settlement, Waldbaum has committed to comply with a schedule in its current NPDES permit for construction of a wastewater treatment plant to treat the effluent from its egg processing facility. Construction of the new plant will be completed in 2009 at an estimated cost of $16 million. “This settlement underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to enforce vigorously the nation’s laws that protect the public and the environment from pollution,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “I am particularly pleased by the federal/state partnership that brought about this outstanding resolution of serious environmental violations.”

"This settlement is a result of EPA enforcement program's focus on significant environmental problems, such as illegal discharges into our water systems and improper management of manure from concentrated animal feeding operations,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is a great example of what can be accomplished when EPA and a state work together to address noncompliance with our nation’s environmental laws.” “This agreement will ensure that Waldbaum makes progress toward full compliance, which must be achieved by all animal agriculture facilities to ensure that this vital Midwestern industry is protective of human health and the environment,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew.

As part of the settlement, Waldbaum has also agreed to apply for a NPDES permit for its Husker Pride poultry farm CAFO and to develop and implement manure management plans at its other six poultry farms. The corrective actions in this agreement are designed to protect the integrity of the City of Wakefield POTW’s lagoon system and will protect surface water quality with better treatment of egg processing effluent and improved poultry manure management practices. EPA estimates that actions under this agreement will result in annual reductions of 60 pounds of phosphorus, 18,250 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), 61,000 pounds of total suspended solids (TSS), and 41,600 pounds of ammonia. Ammonia is a component of poultry manure. Excessive amounts of ammonia, in wastewater can be harmful to wildlife—particularly to fish and other aquatic organisms. Excessive amounts of phosphorous, BOD, and TSS in wastewater harms waterways by depleting dissolved oxygen needed by aquatic life to live.

Concurrent with this settlement, a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Wakefield, Neb. is being filed for numerous NPDES permit violations at its POTW – many due to overloading of its lagoons by effluent from Waldbaum’s egg processing facility. Under the agreement, the City of Wakefield will pay a civil penalty of $20,000, comply with the Clean Water Act and its NPDES permit, prohibit POTW treatment of wastewater from Waldbaum, and conduct increased influent and effluent monitoring and reporting.

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June 27, 2006

Oregon Cherry Farmer Agrees To Restore Wetlands
EPA announced that the owner and manager of the Twin Forks Ranch in Hood River, Oregon, have agreed to restore 4.32 acres and enhance an additional 1.38 acres of wetlands that were impacted while constructing irrigation facilities on the property in 2004. The property owner, Oswald Ranches, LLC., and its manager entered a voluntary agreement with the State of Oregon under their state Fill and Removal Law and EPA under the Clean Water Act (CWA) in which they agreed to conduct the wetlands restoration and mitigation work. The manager and his company violated the CWA when he cleared a portion of a 73-acre parcel to convert to cherry orchards. Oswald believed that these areas were covered under state and federal agricultural exemptions and did not qualify as regulated wetlands. However, according to EPA, not all activities associated with agriculture, are exempt. “The landowner in this case, mistakenly believed that its land clearing activities and irrigation reservoir construction were exempt from state and federal regulations,” said Socorro Rodriguez, Director EPA’s Oregon Operations Office in Portland. “The basic message here is when in doubt, check first.” The Oregon Department of State Lands has already assessed a $3,600 penalty for the violation. Once implemented, the mitigation and restoration proposed by the landowner will enhance both fish and wildlife habitat and water quality in the area.

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May 18, 2006

Illinois Farm Cited for Filling in Wetlands Without Permit
EPA Region 5 has issued an administrative complaint to Heser Farms of Centralia, Ill., for allegedly depositing about 3,000 cubic yards of material into two acres of forested wetlands without first obtaining a required permit. The wetlands are in Marion County, Ill., next to Martin Branch, a stream that flows through Lake Centralia. Heser Farms failed to comply with a January 2005 EPA order to restore the wetlands. EPA proposes to assess a $120,000 penalty. Under the federal Clean Water Act, a permit is required to fill in waters of the U.S., including wetlands. Wetlands include marshes, bogs, swamps and similar areas between water and dry land. They are valuable because they filter pollutants, provide wildlife habitat, control flooding, reduce erosion, support fisheries and recharge ground water.

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March 6, 2006

Cattle Feedlot Operator in Iowa Cited for Clean Water Act Violations
EPA Region 7 has cited Lauritsen Cattle Company, a feedlot operator in southwestern Iowa, for illegally discharging pollutants into a tributary of the East Nishnabotna River in violation of the Clean Water Act. The operator also has failed to fully comply with the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan. EPA ordered Lauritsen Cattle Company (Lauritsen) to build proper livestock waste control structures to stop feedlot wastewater and runoff from further damaging the environment. Lauritsen had been violating the law by operating its cattle feedlot without those controls. The feedlot is located near Exira, about 70 miles west of Des Moines. In addition, Lauritsen has agreed to pay a $29,700 penalty. The enforcement case will be finalized in mid-March, subject to public comment during a 40-day comment period. EPA brought this action after the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) expelled Lauritsen from the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan (Iowa Plan). Lauritsen registered in the Iowa Plan in 2001, but failed to meet its mandatory deadlines for progress. The Iowa Plan ends April 1. “Our message to Iowa cattle producers has been clear,” said Jim Gulliford, EPA Regional Administrator. “Producers were given a five-year enforcement moratorium to fully comply with the law, and we expect them to meet the commitments they made when they entered into the agreement. When the Iowa Plan ends, EPA will enforce the Clean Water Act against feedlots that are polluting the nation’s waters.” IDNR developed the Iowa Plan in 2001 with input from 11 organizations and agencies, including EPA. It established a five-year enforcement moratorium by IDNR and EPA for feedlots that registered in the Iowa Plan and met specific compliance milestones. Several hundred cattle feedlots in Iowa are regulated under the Clean Water Act, which requires feedlots to prevent the discharge of all livestock runoff because of the numerous pollutants it contains, often at harmful levels. Illegal runoff from open feedlots has caused a number of fish kills in Iowa in recent years. Animal wastes are typically high in nutrients, including ammonia and other pollutants, which can cause decreased oxygen levels in receiving waters. These depleted oxygen levels can adversely impact fish and other aquatic life. In addition, ammonia above certain concentrations in surface water is toxic to fish. Cattle feedlot wastewater may also contain a number of bacterial and viral pathogens (such as E. coli), as well as parasites (such as Cryptosporidium). Illnesses caused by ingestion of these microorganisms can result in gastroenteritis, fever, and kidney failure.

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March 1, 2006

EPA Orders Nordman Feedlots To Stop Discharges
EPA Region 5 has ordered Nordman Feedlots Inc., Oregon, Ill., to stop all unauthorized discharges of manure and wastewater and comply with the Clean Water Act. EPA also ordered the company to apply to Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a discharge permit under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. "When pollutants from livestock manure and other animal waste discharge into surface or ground water they can create a threat to public health and water resources," said EPA regional Water Division director Jo-Lynn Traub. In June 2005, EPA inspected the feedlot and found it is a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) under the Clean Water Act because 2,000 cattle were confined at the site. The inspector also reported that pollutants from the facility were not contained and polluted runoff was discharging to an unnamed ditch that drains to the Kyte River, a tributary of the Rock River. The Clean Water Act prohibits manure and wastewater discharges from CAFOs unless authorized by a permit. Regulations require any person who discharges or proposes to discharge to apply for a permit. The order also requires Nordman Feedlots to develop a plan to contain and adequately store manure and wastewater from its production area and submit the plan to EPA, Illinois EPA and the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Manure and wastewater from animal feeding operations have the potential to contribute pollutants to the environment such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments and pathogens.

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March 7, 2005

California Farming Company To Pay $1.15 Million for Wetlands Violations
EPA has reached an agreement with Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. for the payment of $1.15 million in penalties and conservation projects, and the preservation of approximately 20 acres of wetlands, creeks, and riparian habitat on their property in Santa Barbara County. The agreement represents a full settlement of a civil enforcement action brought by the United States alleging that the company unlawfully filled 70 acres of federally-regulated waters in the late 1990's, including portions of Orcutt Creek. "EPA will continue to be vigilant in ensuring activities affecting our waterways and wetlands are properly permitted under the Clean Water Act," said Alexis Strauss, Water Division Director for the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. "We remain steadfast in safeguarding California's imperiled wetlands. This settlement protects Orcutt Creek and permanently preserves nearby wetlands widely recognized as conservation priorities."

Under the terms of the proposed settlement with the U.S. EPA and the Department of Justice, Adam Brothers Farming, Inc. will pay a $200,000 penalty to the federal government, and $915,000 to the Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County. In turn, the Land Conservancy will spend the money buying and protecting parcels containing wetlands, creeks, and riparian habitat in southern San Luis Obispo County; these important parcels are threatened by landscape fragmentation and suburban development. Specifically, the Conservancy will buy two properties sheltering aquatic resources similar to those damaged along Orcutt Creek:

EPA learned of the violations from the Los Angeles District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Together, EPA and the Corps administer the federal wetlands regulatory program. The proposed settlement allows Adam Brothers Farming, Inc, to farm legally on their 261-acre parcel near the town of Orcutt in northern Santa Barbara County.

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January 27, 2005

Federal Court Orders Cranberry Growers To Restore 25 Acres of Wetlands and Pay $75,000 For Violations
EPA announced that a federal judge has ordered Carver, Mass. cranberry growers Charles and Genelda Johnson, Francis Vaner Johnson, and Johnson Cranberries Limited Partnership, to pay a civil penalty of $75,000 and restore and create over 25 acres of wetlands and streams for Clean Water Act violations. The court-imposed wetland restoration project will cost an estimated $1.1 million and must be completed in four years.

The announcement follows an earlier judgment by the federal District Court, for the District of Massachusetts, that found the Johnsons liable for multiple violations of the Clean Water Act when they filled and altered wetlands and other waters while constructing and expanding cranberry bogs at three of their properties in Carver, Mass. The Johnsons failed to obtain permits from the Army Corps of Engineers, as is required before filling or altering wetlands. Because of the significant ecological impacts to the wetlands at the site, it is unlikely that a permit would have been issued for the bogs, as constructed. This is one of the largest wetlands cases ever pursued by EPA's New England regional office, in terms of the acres of wetlands filled and altered. While the court found the Johnsons liable for filling more wetland acres than will be restored under the court's order, the remedy reflects the most that the United States' financial experts estimated that the Johnsons could afford and still continue their farming business.

The Johnson's cranberry bog construction and associated activities destroyed existing natural wetlands and streams and severely diminished their ecological functions. The resolution of this case will not only restore these ecological functions, but will ensure that the majority of cranberry growers, who do comply with the Clean Water Act requirements, will not be placed at a competitive disadvantage by those farmers who violate the rules. EPA presented extensive evidence to the court showing that the Defendants' violations resulted in significant environmental and ecological harm that warranted restoration and the payment of a penalty. Wetlands provide valuable wildlife habitat -- offering breeding and feeding grounds for a broad array of mammals, birds and other wildlife. Wetlands help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities by preventing flooding from snow melts after storms and providing a natural filtration system for stormwater runoff before it gets into our rivers, lakes and ponds. Converting large areas of natural wetlands to commercial cranberry bogs can profoundly alter and impair wildlife habitat and floodwater retention. Restoration of harmed wetlands is an appropriate remedy in cases where these functions have been impaired, as restoring the integrity of the nation's waters is one of the main purposes of the Clean Water Act.

EPA was assisted on the case by the New England District of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is charged with issuing permits under the Clean Water Act for work in wetlands. As part of the Corps' wetlands enforcement program, they provide technical support in the development of wetland enforcement cases. The Corps, along with EPA and state agencies, also provides technical support to farmers to help them comply with wetlands law and have made great strides in encouraging farmers to meet with the agencies to ensure they obtain the proper federal permits before constructing or expanding bogs in wetlands.

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December 1, 2004

Rendering Plant Pleads Guilty
Griffin Industries Inc., of Cold Spring, Ky., pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Augusta to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act by discharging number six fuel oil through a designated storm water outfall into Bay Branch Creek. The plea agreement calls for the company to pay a fine of $50,000. The agreement also calls for the company to continue to employ an environmental consulting company for a minimum of 12 months to oversee the disposal of wastewater. Griffin Industries is a rendering plant that converts inedible animal waste into tallow, a main ingredient in cattle feed and dry pet food. According to charges in the plea agreement, employees of Griffin Industries’ East Dublin, Ga., plant violated the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System storm water permit by allowing number six fuel oil to enter the south storm water outfall. Rainfall or wash-down water from clean up procedures discharged the number six fuel oil from the south storm water outfall into Bay Branch Creek. Discharging wastewater containing number six fuel oil can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The case was investigated by the Atlanta Area Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center, EPA Region IV, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of Georgia.

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November 23, 2004

Tennessee Dairy Farmer Indicted
The owner of the Black Jack Ridge Dairy near the community of Santa Fe, Tenn., was indicted on Nov. 4, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville on two felony and one misdemeanor count of violating the Clean Water Act. The indictment alleges that the owner used both a manmade pipe and a spray irrigation system to discharge waste from his dairy facility onto the grounds of his property. The wastes then allegedly flowed into Lick Creek which empties into the Duck River. Polluting surface waters with animal wastes can make the waters unsafe for drinking and recreational uses, and it can also present a danger to fish and wildlife. The case was investigated by the Nashville Office of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General and the FBI with the assistance of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. It is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.

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November 9, 2004

EPA Orders Nevada Beef Company To Correct Violations of Federal Water Regulations
EPA ordered the Agri-Beef Company to correct damage done to a local river on its 1.4 million acre IL Ranch in Elko County, Nev., in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. EPA ordered the company to correct damage done to a segment of the South Fork Owyhee River at the company’s ranch which is located approximately 80 miles north of Elko. The company placed roughly 3,200 cubic yards of dredged material -- dirt and debris – into the river to divert 1,200 feet of its flow without first obtaining a federal permit. "The Owhyee River is a treasured natural resource of the Western United States," said Alexis Strauss, director of EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest regional office. "We will ensure this company complies with our order to undo the damage, and restore the river." The order requires the company to prepare a comprehensive plan for restoring the river's flow back to its natural course. The company must remove the dirt and debris, replace any vegetation removed, and take steps to prevent further erosion of the stream banks. In addition, EPA is requiring the company to monitor the area for five years to evaluate the success of the restoration project. EPA discovered the violations after a site inspection last July.

Federal regulations prohibit the placement of dirt, debris or dredged material into waterways without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. When projects are undertaken without a required permit, environmental damage can occur from increases in erosion, water pollution and flooding. EPA and the Corps share responsibilities for enforcing specific provisions of the federal Clean Water Act and they are working together to resolve the violation at the IL Ranch. The IL Ranch encompasses one of the most pristine natural landscapes left in the Western United States. The Owyhee River, which flows from Nevada into Idaho’s Snake River, is a popular recreation destination for fishing and rafting.

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September 22, 2004

EPA Settles Wetlands Enforcement Case in Tulare County
As part of a settlement with EPA over wetlands violations along Cottonwood Creek north of Visalia, the Leyendekker family will convey a nearby 300-acre parcel of land to a regional land trust for permanent protection and management. The parcel, known as "Westside 300," is south of Waukena near Creighton Ranch amid the convergence of several creeks, rivers, and sloughs. The parcel supports 40 acres of rare, alkali vernal pools in the proximity of the ancient shoreline of the drained Tulare Lake. Vernal pools are a type of seasonal wetland that often support plants and animals unique to California. The property will be managed for conservation purposes while allowing sustainable livestock grazing and scientific research accompanied by a rigorous restoration and management plan being prepared by the land trust.

"Through the years, the wetlands and waterways of Tulare County have been severely altered and impaired," said Alexis Strauss, director of EPA's water division for the Pacific Southwest region. "We are pleased the aquatic resources on Westside 300 will be restored and protected forever to help offset the unfortunate loss of wetlands along Cottonwood Creek." In June 2000, the Leyendekkers converted 75 percent of a nearly pristine 320-acre parcel along Cottonwood Creek from wetlands into cultivated farmland. Workers destroyed approximately 33 acres of vernal pools and swales by deep-ripping, disking, and land-leveling without appropriate federal and state permits. The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams, and other waterways without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Corps. Together, EPA and the Corps administer the federal wetlands program.

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August 23, 2004

EPA Proposes $25K Penalty Against Owner of Diamond T Ranch
EPA has proposed a $25,000 penalty against a ranch owner for illegally dredging and filling a wetland and creek on Diamond T Ranch, south of McCammon, in Bannock County, Idaho. In Fall 2001, while building an earthen bridge across a creek, the owner filled and bulldozed approximately one-half of an acre of stream channel, wetlands, and riparian habitat adjacent to Potter Creek. He constructed the bridge to move his farm equipment from one field to the next. The owner never obtained the permits necessary for the project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or from the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

In violation of Corps regulations, the culvert the owner placed beneath his earthen road crossing does not allow for the passage of aquatic life, and disrupts the natural flow of Potter Creek. The disturbance of area around Potter Creek has resulted in runoff of sediment into the creek. He and his ranch manager, who performed the work, were told by the Corps to cease the activity being conducted without the required permits, but later resumed their illegal work on the project. The owner also has failed to comply with numerous deadlines for restoration of the site set by the EPA and the Corps, and to date has refused to restore all of the damage caused by his unauthorized work. Under the Clean Water Act, EPA proposes penalties using a number of factors, including the seriousness of the violation, length of time stream was impacted, and lack of good-faith efforts to comply.

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August 10, 2004

Yardarm Knot Fisheries To Pay $11,000 Penalty for Fish Waste Violations
EPA announced that Yardarm Knot Fisheries, which operates the Red Salmon Cannery in Naknek, has agreed to pay $11,000 to settle an EPA-issued complaint for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. While the facility has a permit to discharge its fish processing waste into the Naknek River, after a June 2003 inspection, an EPA inspector determined that the company was violating important terms of its Clean Water Act permit. Among the violations noted are:

"Seafood processing is a critical element of Alaska’s economy,” said Mike Bussell, Director of EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance office in Seattle. “But it shouldn’t be done at the expense of the environment that the seafood industry depends upon. Strong enforcement actions help level the playing field by forcing non-compliant operators to invest in treatment technologies and practices that their competitors have adopted in order to obey the law and protect their environment.”

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January 23, 2004

Wyoming Man Indicted for Clean Water Act Violations Affecting Indian Lands
John Hubenka, of Riverton, WY, was indicted on Jan. 14, 2004 on charges that he allegedly built unpermitted dikes in Wyoming's Wind River in violation of the Clean Water Act. The indictment charges that between March 1999 and November 1999, Hubenka performed dredging and construction to build three earthen dikes in the river without a proper permit. In the process he allegedly used earth moving equipment to discharge rock, sand and other dredge and fill material into the river. The alleged result was a change in the river's course that cut off approximately 300 acres of tribal land from the reservation. Separating tribal land from an Indian reservation can create an economic burden on tribal members who wish to use the land for agricultural or other economic purposes, and unpermitted discharge of dredge and fill material into rivers can harm fish and wildlife. The case was investigated by the Denver Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with legal support from EPA Region 8 in Denver. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne. An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.

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November 5, 2002

Silver Spring Exterminating Company Sentenced for Improper Pesticide Disposal - Discharge Caused Significant Fish Kill in Rock Creek
EPA announced that Pied Piper Pest Control of Silver Spring, Md., and a worker of Berwyn Heights, Md., were sentenced Nov. 4 for discharging pesticides into Rock Creek causing a fish kill in May, 2000. The U.S. District Court Judge imposed a fine of $15,000 on Pied Piper and ordered the company to pay restitution of $5,000 each to Montgomery County and the State of Maryland for their response costs. The court also ordered Pied Piper to comply with an August 2002 Consent Order with the Maryland Department of Agriculture. The consent order suspends the license of both Pied Piper and its owner, for a total of 18 weeks over the next three years, during the height of the termite season, and requires that the worker either pass a state certified applicator examination or be personally supervised during pesticide applications. The worker was also ordered to serve six months of home confinement with electronic monitoring and placed on probation for two years. The court further ordered that the worker comply with the work restrictions in the consent decree, wherever he is employed.

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August 28, 2002

North Carolina Meat Packing Company Sentenced for Clean Water Act Conspiracy
For conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, Lakeview Packing Co. of Snowhill, NC, was sentenced to pay a $75,000 fine and serve five years probation on Aug. 5, 2002 in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina in Greenville. Lakeview Packing is a hog slaughter and processing company. In its previous plea, the defendant admitted that it conspired with its employees to intentionally discharge processing wastes from its facility through a drainage pipe into Tyson Marsh that empties into Contentnea Creek, which is a tributary of the Neuse River. The amount discharged averaged approximately 30,000 gallons per day. The discharge of animal processing wastes into surface waters can make them unsafe for drinking and recreation and can promote the growth of microorganisms such as pfisteria which can be harmful to fish, wildlife, and humans. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Greenville.

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January 18, 2002

South Dakota Facility Pleads to Clean Water Act Violation
Heartland Grain Fuels of Aberdeen, SD, has agreed to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act by illegally discharging ethanol into Moccasin Creek. The ethanol reached the Aberdeen wastewater treatment facility and killed bacteria needed to properly digest raw sewage. The ability of the plant to adequately treat sewage was impaired for approximately two weeks. If the U.S. District Court in Aberdeen approves the plea agreement, Heartland will pay up to $40,000 in fines and provide an additional $158,143 to the city of Aberdeen to upgrade the ability of its sewage treatment facility to control and monitor pollutant discharges. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sioux Falls.

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March 9, 2001

CEO of Mississippi Company Sentenced
The former Chief Executive Officer of Central Industries, Inc., Scott County, Miss., was sentenced March 2, for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA). The company previously pleaded guilty to CWA violations and was fined $14 million. The company operates an animal rendering plant and was charged with discharging levels of polluted wastewater that exceeded permitted levels from its rendering plant into Tallabogue Creek, a tributary of the Pearl River. The former CEO was fined $300,000 and ordered to serve four months home confinement, three years probation and 200 hours to benefit the community. Discharging higher than permitted levels of organic wastes into surface waters can reduce oxygen in rivers and streams and thereby harm fish and aquatic life. The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigations Division, the FBI and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and was jointly prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice and by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Jackson.

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