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February 3, 2010

Moellers Pays $60,000 Civil Penalty for Manure Releases and Water Pollution

Court orders Cresco-area swine, cattle and dairy farmer to pay major penalty – and requires operations to follow strict series of measures for manure management in future.

Cresco. Kenneth Moellers has paid a court-ordered $60,000 penalty for a series of violations of manure-management regulations and water pollution incidents affecting a Northeast Iowa trout stream, the Turkey River, and other waters of the state.

Howard County District Court Judge Margaret L. Lingreen issued an order in December ordering the penalty, prohibiting any future violations, and requiring Moellers to undertake a battery of measures to comply with environmental regulations and avoid water pollution resulting from manure at Moellers’ large swine, cattle and dairy operations close to Cresco.

The court order resolves a lawsuit filed by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and amended last year. The matter was referred to the AG’s Office by the Environmental Protection Commission at the request of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which undertook numerous administrative enforcement actions. [Go to lawsuit.]

“We alleged that Moellers repeatedly violated Iowa laws concerning water pollution control and animal feeding operations,” said Attorney General Tom Miller. “This is an appropriate penalty, and the violations should cease.”

The suit alleged Moellers:

  • Illegally discharged manure to a water of the state causing water quality violations -- including the Turkey River and Chialk Creek, a brown-trout stream.
  • Failed to notify the DNR of manure releases.
  • Failed to remove manure solids from open feedlot effluent, and applied manure too close to a water sources.
  • Expanded the confinement dairy operation without a permit, failed to submit a manure management plan for the facility, and land-applied manure without a manure management plan.

The lawsuit alleged numerous violations in August 2005, September 2005, March 2008, and October 2008.

In the Consent Order, Judgment and Decree entered on Dec. 21, 2009, by Judge Lingreen, Moellers agreed to take numerous corrective measures ordered by the court, including he:

  • Must submit a completed NPDES permit application and nutrient management plan for his cattle operation (Hayek Farm).
  • Must submit a construction permit application for proposed manure storage structures and a manure management plan for his dairy operation.
  • Must submit a written report to the DNR stating the animal type and maximum animal unit capacity of each confinement building and open lot involved in his operations.
  • Must not land-apply manure, including manure solids, on frozen or snow-covered ground except in an emergency. All manure applications must be conducted by a certified manure applicator, and
    Moellers himself must be certified within 90 days of entry of the Decree. All stockpiled manure and bedding must be managed to prevent runoff.

[Go to Consent Order, Judgment and Decree.]

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