Iowa’s Environmental Protection Commission is referring a livestock operation to the Attorney General’s office for disciplinary action, after two manure spills in less than a month were traced to the Plymouth Dairy, which has nearly 2300 head of cattle in northwest Iowa. The Department of Natural Resources’ Wayne Gieselman works with animal feeding operations. The farm discharged manure into the state’s waters and caused some water-quality degradation, Gieselman says. The Department of Natural Resources is recommending the Attorney General require the farm be required to get an M-P-D-E-S permit, and pay reparations for any fishkill in the river, and any water-quality damage. Foes of big animal confinement operations applauded the action and urged the state to go farther. Michelle Merkle, a lawyer representing two Iowa environmental groups, says the state is ignoring the federal Clean Water Act. Merkle says most spills come from such operations. “There’ve been over 450 documented manure spills from livestock operations in Iowa over the last decade,” she says, “killing 2-point-six-Million fish.” Merkle charges that 60-percent of those spills came from confinements. Dexter farmer Barbara Kalbach (CALL’-baw) delivered a petition she said had 2-thousand signatures on it, asking the DNR to make all animal-feeding operations get a waste-discharge permit. Kalbach says the petitions show how concerned people are about the quality of their water, but show they also want “factory farms” under control. “The EPC should be pro-active, not reactive,” she says. “We need local control today, we need a moratorium now, before a crisis happens to our waters and soil.” The DNR says it’s already illegal to discharge manure into state waters, so issuing a permit would be overkill. Now, such a permit is only required of operations found to be responsible for a spill.
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