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Cattle Feedlot Operator in Southwestern Iowa Cited for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 03/06/2006
Contact Information: Martin Kessler, (913) 551-7236, kessler.martin@epa.gov



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EPA Region 7 has cited Lauritsen Cattle Company, a feedlot operator in southwestern Iowa, for illegally discharging pollutants into a tributary of the East Nishnabotna River in violation of the Clean Water Act. The operator also has failed to fully comply with the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan.

EPA ordered Lauritsen Cattle Company (Lauritsen) to build proper livestock waste control structures to stop feedlot wastewater and runoff from further damaging the environment. Lauritsen had been violating the law by operating its cattle feedlot without those controls. The feedlot is located near Exira, about 70 miles west of Des Moines.

In addition, Lauritsen has agreed to pay a $29,700 penalty. The enforcement case will be finalized in mid-March, subject to public comment during a 40-day comment period.

EPA brought this action after the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) expelled Lauritsen from the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan (Iowa Plan). Lauritsen registered in the Iowa Plan in 2001, but failed to meet its mandatory deadlines for progress. The Iowa Plan ends April 1.

“Our message to Iowa cattle producers has been clear,” said Jim Gulliford, EPA regional administrator. “Producers were given a five-year enforcement moratorium to fully comply with the law, and we expect them to meet the commitments they made when they entered into the agreement. When the Iowa Plan ends, EPA will enforce the Clean Water Act against feedlots that are polluting the nation’s waters.”

IDNR developed the Iowa Plan in 2001 with input from 11 organizations and agencies, including EPA. It established a five-year enforcement moratorium by IDNR and EPA for feedlots that registered in the Iowa Plan and met specific compliance milestones.

Several hundred cattle feedlots in Iowa are regulated under the Clean Water Act, which requires feedlots to prevent the discharge of all livestock runoff because of the numerous pollutants it contains, often at harmful levels. Illegal runoff from open feedlots has caused a number of fish kills in Iowa in recent years.

Animal wastes are typically high in nutrients, including ammonia and other pollutants, which can cause decreased oxygen levels in receiving waters. These depleted oxygen levels can adversely impact fish and other aquatic life. In addition, ammonia above certain concentrations in surface water is toxic to fish.

Cattle feedlot wastewater may also contain a number of bacterial and viral pathogens (such as E. coli), as well as parasites (such as Cryptosporidium). Illnesses caused by ingestion of these microorganisms can result in gastroenteritis, fever, and kidney failure.

For more information about the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan, visit IDNR’s Web site at: www.iowadnr.com/afo/open1.html

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