Judgment obtained against Viroqua farm for dumping manure in stream

VIROQUA—Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office has obtained a judgment and order against Lehmann Farms 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, the owners/operators of Lehmann Farms hooked a pump hose onto the lower valve of the manure storage unit in the middle of the night 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- to 280-cow dairy near Viroqua. Facilities that house more than 700 dairy cows are defined as large Confined Animal Feeding Operations 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 provide that Lehmann Farms will apply for a discharge permit, which require the farm to secure and maintain adequate manure storage capacity in the future. It is anticipated that Lehmann Farms will construct a second manure storage facility at a cost of approximately $300,000, which should ensure adequate 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.

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

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