Kaul reaches $242K settlement on manure spills

Associated Press
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul reached a $242K settlement on manure spills in LaCrosse and Vernon counties.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Attorney General Josh Kaul has reached a $242,000 settlement with a large dairy farm and a manure applicator to resolve pollution violations stemming from manure spills several years ago.

Kaul announced the settlements with K&D Manure Handling, Inc., its owner, Kevin Hintz, and Wild Rose Dairy LLC in a news release. He brokered the deals earlier this month.

The settlements resolve state Justice Department allegations that Wild Rose and K&D caused manure spills in Otter Creek in Vernon County in 2017 and 2019, resulting in significant fish kills each time. The agency also alleged that K&D and Hintz caused a spill in Bostwick Creek in La Crosse County in 2019. 

Wild Rose Dairy operates a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) near La Farge. K & D Manure Handling is a custom manure applicator, which Mr. Hintz owns and operates, out of Sparta. K & D Manure Handling land spreads manure for CAFOs, including Wild Rose Dairy, and smaller dairy farms.

During the investigation, Hintz told DNR conservation warned that he knew the manure had reached a tributary to Bostwick Creek, but failed to report the spill to the state agency because he "hoped nothing would come of it". The DNR was notified of the fish kill in Bostwick Creek by an anonymous public tip.

The agreement requires Wild Rose Dairy to pay $57,000 in forfeitures, surcharges, court costs, and attorney fees. The agreement requires K & D Manure Handling and Hintz to pay $185,000 in total in forfeitures, surcharges, court costs, DNR costs, and attorney fees. This includes $126,000 for the fish killed by the three manure spills.

Republican lawmakers passed a lame-duck law in 2018 that requires Kaul to get permission from the Legislature's GOP-controlled budget committee before he can enter into settlements. Kaul got around that requirement by brokering the deals without filing a lawsuit. 

Colleen Kottke of the Wisconsin State Farmer contributed to this report.