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EPA Files Complaint, Seeks Civil Penalties Against Bruneau Cattle Company (Owyhee County, ID) for Federal Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 12/08/2006
Contact Information: Mike Bussell, 206-553-4198, Mark MacIntyre, EPA/Seattle, 206-553-7302,

(Seattle, Wash.- December 8, 2006) As part of an ongoing campaign to protect human health and water quality in Idaho’s Snake River, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a Complaint against the Bruneau Cattle Company (Owyhee County, ID) for unauthorized discharges of pollutants from a Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) to the South Side Canal. The Canal flows to the Snake River and C.J. Strike Reservoir near Bruneau, ID.

According to Elin D. Miller, EPA regional administrator in Seattle, the Agency took action after an inspection in 2006 revealed clear evidence of several direct discharges of CAFO wastewater from cattle pens to the Canal, which flows to reservoir and the Snake River.

“This is an especially important case since the discharge was immediately upstream of a public campground,” said EPA’s Miller. “Feedlots have a responsibility to protect water quality and downstream water users. We share the state of Idaho’s concern for protecting water quality and want to send a clear message that less responsible feed lots won’t enjoy a competitive advantage over those who do the right thing.”

Bruneau Cattle Company, with a capacity of approximately 7,000 head of cattle, is located in Owyhee County in Southwest Idaho. On February 8, 2006, at the time of the inspection, there were approximately 4,000 head of cattle on site. During the inspection, EPA inspectors observed past evidence of discharges and documented that the facility did not have any wastewater containment systems to prevent wastewater runoff from cattle pens.

Manure and wastewater from CAFOs have the potential to contribute pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, and ammonia to the environment. Excess nutrients in water (i.e., nitrogen and phosphorus) can result in or contribute to fish kills.

“We look forward to working closely with the Idaho Department of Agriculture to ensure that feedlot owners comply with regulations that protect the state’s rivers, lakes and streams for all Idahoans.” EPA’s Miller added.

Bruneau Cattle Company has 30 days to respond to the complaint and will have an opportunity for a hearing if the Company and EPA are unable to reach a settlement. Under the federal Clean Water Act, facilities can face fines of up to $11,000 per day of violation.

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For more about EPA’s regulatory work with Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs):

View the full complaint (PDF, 8pp. 64KB)