The state Department of Justice has recently obtained settlements with four facilities — three farms and a cooperative — over water pollution and wastewater violations.

On Feb. 3, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced a settlement with Rolling Hills Dairy Farms, LLC, a concentrated animal feeding operation in Luxemburg in Kewaunee County. The settlement requires Rolling Hills Dairy to pay $144,000 and construct additional runoff controls to solve violations of Wisconsin’s wastewater laws.

The DOJ alleged that on at least two occasions the farm unlawfully discharged contaminated runoff from its feed storage at the main dairy into an East Twin River tributary. The discharges occurred after warnings from Department of Natural Resources staff.

Other allegations include that the farm denied DNR staff access to inspect the CAFO and failed to submit information required when the farm originally constructed the feed storage area runoff controls to show that the controls would prevent runoff into the tributary. The DOJ also said the dairy failed to construct required runoff controls, stored feed in an unapproved location and spread manure before a rain storm, causing runoff.

On Feb. 18, Kaul announced settlements with three other facilities — Tri-Star Dairy, Inc., Mt. Sterling Cheese and Maple Leaf Dairy, Inc. — requiring $190,000 in payment for water pollution and wastewater violations.

According to the complaint, Tri-Star Dairy, a CAFO in Wood County, discharged polluted runoff into state waters, failed to maintain a safe level of manure in a storage pit at the dairy, failed to report the unauthorized manure discharge, and failed to mitigate the impacts of the four-day unauthorized discharge of pollutants into state waters.

The dairy is required to pay $55,000 for its violations and submit photographic proof to the DNR for the next two years. These violations are the second time the DOJ has had to prosecute the dairy for manure violations.

Southwestern Wisconsin Dairy Goat Products Cooperative, also known as Mt. Sterling Cheese, must pay $50,000 and hire an environmental consultant after the DOJ charged that the cooperative allowed an unpermitted discharge of wastewater from the facility over at least two days in 2018 and failed to report the incident to the DNR in a timely manner. The polluted discharge reached a nearby water of the state.

Maple Leaf Dairy, a CAFO operating over several sites in Manitowoc County, was alleged to have discharged contaminated runoff to a Fisher Creek tributary multiple times, constructed three new facilities without DNR approval, and failed to submit engineering evaluations of existing facilities to the DNR.

The dairy must pay $85,000 and upgrade runoff controls on the feed storage area at one farm and on the calf hutch area on another farm. Maple Leaf Dairy also agreed to stop using a feed storage area on the second farm due to inadequate runoff controls. This is the second time Maple Leaf Dairy has been prosecuted by the DOJ for manure violations.

“Holding those who break these laws accountable isn’t just good for the environment. It also keeps the playing field level for family farms and other small businesses that are doing the right thing by following the law and protecting clean water,” Kaul said.