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Two Washington Dairies Face Penalties

Release Date: 4/28/1998
Contact Information: Joe Roberto
(206) 553-1669 or 800-424-4372

April 28, 1998 - - - - - - - - - 98-18

Two western Washington dairies have been named in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaints alleging that manure was allowed to escape from the dairies into conduits that drain into the Snoqualmie River, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

The complaints were issued to a dairy in Monroe (Snohomish County) operated by Walter De Jong and to Green Acres Dairy in Duvall (King County). The complaint to De Jong dairy seeks penalties of $22,000; the complaint to Green Acres seeks $11,000.

Announcement of the complaints was made today by LeRoy Loiselle, chief of the water compliance unit at EPA's Northwest regional headquarters in Seattle.

"At both the De Jong and Green Acres dairies, EPA inspectors found that the operators were not doing all that the law requires to keep manure out of our rivers and streams," Loiselle said.

When the De Jong dairy was inspected on February 4, EPA inspectors observed two discharges into a ditch connected to the Snoqualmie River. One discharge was from a breach in a waste storage pond, the other was leachate from a bunker where silage was stored.

During the February 12 inspection at Green Acres, EPA inspectors observed a discharge of manure-laden waste from a storage pond into a culvert that drains directly to the Snoqualmie River.

The two inspections were among the more than four dozen unannounced inspections that EPA has performed since last December at dairies in Pierce, King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. The purpose of the inspections is to check the dairies for compliance with the federal Clean Water Act, the statute that prohibits runoff of wastes that can pollute nearby streams, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water. Runoff from dairies typically contains bacteria, large amounts of nutrients and other organic matter that can degrade water quality and harm wildlife.

Inspectors are mainly concerned with manure, but they also check on how dairies store their silage. Because leachate from stored silage can deplete oxygen, there is a danger that if the leachate entered a creek or stream it could deprive the water of oxygen needed to support aquatic life.

At both the De Jong and Green Acres dairies, the EPA inspectors took samples of the animal wastes entering the drainage ditches. Laboratory analyses revealed the presence of fecal coliform bacteria.

Dairy wastes can contain E. Coli bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause gastroenteritis, severe fever and, in the most serious cases, kidney failure or even death.

The complaints to the De Jong and Green Acres dairies were accompanied by compliance orders that require the dairy operators to stop all discharges of waste from storage ponds, silage piles or any animal confinement area, plus all discharges resulting from land application of animal wastes. The dairy operators are required to check daily for any discharge; if one is observed samples must be taken and analyzed by a laboratory for fecal coliforms. Also, EPA must be notified and steps must be taken by the dairy to prevent such discharges from happening again.

The dairies have 30 days from the date they receive the complaints to challenge the penalties EPA has proposed and to contest EPA's allegations.