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Dairy farms, cheese co-op settle pollution violations for $190K

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//February 24, 2021

Dairy farms, cheese co-op settle pollution violations for $190K

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//February 24, 2021

Two dairy farms and a cheese cooperative have settled water pollution and wastewater violations for $190,000.

Attorney General Josh Kaul announced the settlement on Feb. 18. It requires Tri-Star Dairy, Mt. Sterling Cheese and Maple Leaf Dairy to pay $190,000 in forfeitures, surcharges, court costs and attorney fees.

Maple Leaf Dairy will foot the largest bill among the three polluters. The company operates several farms in Manitowoc County. The Wisconsin Department of Justice said it discharged contaminated runoff into a tributary several times, built three operations without approval from the Department of Natural Resources and failed to submit engineering evaluations of existing operations to the DNR.

The judgment requires Maple Leaf Dairy to pay $85,000 and improve runoff controls at two farms. The company also agreed to stop using a feed-storage area that has runoff controls that are not sufficient to prevent future contamination.

The DOJ said this is the second time it has prosecuted Maple Leaf Dairy for violations related to manure management. Assistant Attorney General Emily M. Ertel represented the state. Manitowoc County Circuit Court Judge Jerilyn M. Dietz signed the order for judgment on Feb. 9.

Tri-Star Dairy will pay $55,000 to resolve its alleged violations. The DOJ accused the Wood County farm of discharging polluted runoff into state waters, failing to maintain a safe level of manure in a storage pit at the dairy and failing to mitigate the effects of four days’ of pollutants discharged into state waters. In addition to the fine, the judgment required Tri-Star to submit photographic proof to the DNR for the next two years to help ensure safe manure management and storage at the farm.

Assistant Attorneys General Tressie K. Kamp and Lorraine C. Stoltzfus represented the state. Wood County Circuit Court Judge Judge Nicholas J. Brazeau signed the order for judgment on Feb. 8.

Southwestern Wisconsin Dairy Goat Products Cooperative, which operates as Mt. Sterling Cheese, agreed to pay $50,000 for violations of water pollution control laws. The DOJ said the cooperative allowed an unpermitted discharge of wastewater from the operation over at least two days in summer of 2018. The discharge contained high levels of pollutants such as chloride and reached nearby water. The complaint alleges that defendants failed to report the runoff event to the DNR in a timely manner.

Crawford County Circuit Court Judge Lynn M. Rider signed the order of judgment on Feb. 15. In addition to the fine, the judgment ordered the company to hire an environmental consultant to evaluate and improve waste-generation and storage practices at Mt. Sterling. Assistant Attorney General Tressie K. Kamp represented the state.

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