The Attorney General’s office today (Tuesday) filed a lawsuit against a northwest Iowa dairy with more than 2,800 head of cattle, charging it polluted water and violated manure-handling rules. Tim Benton, an assistant in the Attorney General’s office, says the suit charges numerous and repeated violations by Plymouth Dairy Farms, south of Le Mars.
He says the lawsuit alleges manure escaped from the dairy’s settling basins in the fall of 2004 and ran into an unnamed tributary of Plymouth Creek, and that the dairy never told the D-N-R about the spill. It also lists other violations and says in 2005 the operation had no current manure-handling plan, and other paperwork required by state law.
Benton says an anonymous complaint began the case according to the suit, which said the road ditch east of the dairy was “full of manure.” When the D-N-R investigated workers found that manure was flowing into the creek at a rate of at least 100 gallons a minute. The water downstream was filthy and the D-N-R’s Environmental Protection Commission handed the case over to the Attorney General’s office last September.
He says this is a civil action, not criminal, and the commission that referred the case for enforcement is a citizen board. It’s not a situation of acting without basis or arbitrarily — he says the citizen board reviewed the case before referring it. Benton adds the rules that were broken have been on the books for a long time and farmers are well aware of them. Benton says the dairy can’t disregard the order to stop polluting and clean up its operation, as the case includes a five-thousand-dollar-a-day penalty for continuing to violate the laws involved.