Kewaunee Co. CAFO agrees to pay $144K for pollution violations

Colleen Kottke
Wisconsin State Farmer
A Kewanee County dairy farm has agreed to pay the state $144,000 to resolve pollution violations.

A Kewaunee County dairy farm has agreed to pay the state $144,000 to resolve pollution violations.

State Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that a judge approved the settlement with Rolling Hills Dairy Farm LLC on Jan. 5, 2021. According to DNR reports, the Luxemburg dairy is listed as housing 1,597 milking and dry cows.

In the complaint, the state Department of Justice alleged that the farm unlawfully allowed runoff from its feed storage area to enter a tributary of the East Twin River on at least two occasions, the first being noted in 2017. 

These discharges occurred after Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff warned Rolling Hills Dairy that discharges likely were occurring from the CAFO in violation of the law and that the dairy needed to take immediate action to stop this.

During an enforcement conference on August 22, 2017, DNR met with Rolling Hills Dairy to discuss the July 2017 Notice of Violation. The dairy told DNR officials that the cost for infrastructure to contain the runoff from the feed storage area for the 25-year, 24-hour rain event was "significant" and that the DNR needed to be “reasonable.”

The East Twin River is classified as a trout stream and is on Wisconsin’s list of waterways that are impaired due to excess phosphorus. Water sample results of the contaminated runoff showed that it contained high levels of pollutants, including phosphorus.

Kaul noted that the farm unlawfully denied DNR officials access to conduct an unannounced, wet weather inspection of the main farm on Oct. 4, 2017 and again on May 9, 2018 – to determine where the contaminated runoff was originating from  – a violation of the farm's WPDES permit.

Josh Kaul

The department also alleged that the farm failed to submit information when the feed storage area was built to show runoff would be controlled. In addition, the farm was cited for spreading manure before a rain storm, leading to runoff.

In addition to paying $144,000 in forfeitures, surcharges, court costs, and attorney fees, Rolling Hills Dairy will also be required to construct permanent runoff controls on the feed storage area at its main dairy to prevent discharges of contaminated runoff to the tributary.

According to the judgement, Rolling Hills Dairy also agreed to construct runoff controls on the feed storage area at its satellite facility as required by the WPDES permit.

“Those who unlawfully pollute our waters must be held accountable. In this case, the work of DNR and DOJ to enforce our environmental laws has resulted in a significant financial penalty and greater protection against runoff into the East Twin River in Kewaunee County,” said Kaul.