U.S. Water News Online
DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Environmental Protection Agency has
cited a southwest Iowa feedlot operator for violating the Clean Water
Act in a case that could mark the beginning of other violations to be
filed against feedlots around the state.
The Lauritsen Cattle Co., of Exira, is accused of illegally
discharging manure into the East Nishnabotna River.
The EPA said the company also has failed to comply with the Iowa
Open Feedlot Plan, a five-year enforcement moratorium on the Clean
Water Act. It requires hundreds of livestock operations to put in
place manure handling and storage methods to prevent runoff and
During the moratorium period, which began in March 2001 and ends
next month, feedlot operators that signed up for the plan have not
been cited for violations as long as they showed progress toward
compliance. Operations that didn't sign up for the state open feedlot
plan have been subject to EPA enforcement during the moratorium
Jim Gulliford, EPA Region 7 administrator, said with the deadline
approaching, those operations under the moratorium will be held to
"Our message to Iowa cattle producers has been clear," he said.
"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."
In the case of the Lauritsen Cattle Co., owner Scott Lauritsen has
been fined $29,700 for violating the Clean Water Act. The feedlot,
about 3,000-head at the time of an inspection last year, has been
ordered to build waste control structures to prevent further damage
The move by the EPA came after the Iowa Department of Natural
Resources expelled Lauritsen from the moratorium plan. Officials said
Lauritsen had registered for the plan in 2001, but failed to meet
mandatory deadlines for installing manure controls.
"Finally, we just decided he is not abiding by the Iowa plan ...
so we basically removed him from the protection status," said Gene
Tinker, an animal feeding operations coordinator with the DNR.
Since its passage in the 1970s, Tinker said government enforcement
of the Clean Water Act hasn't been up to par, which has meant some
livestock operations didn't feel as though they had to make the
sometimes costly changes.
"They were not out routinely enforcing the state and federal laws
as they should have been," he said.
Stephen Pollard, an EPA compliance officer, said he wouldn't
speculate on Iowa's compliance rates, but said there likely are other
operations that haven't complied with the requirements of the
"As with all sectors that you look at, there are going to be
facilities that aren't going to be in compliance," he said.
Pollard said three other facilities were kicked out of Iowa's
plan, with two receiving enforcement actions and another dealt with
He said the moratorium plan was a cooperative effort between the
DNR and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association, and was honored at the
EPA's discretion. He wasn't aware of any other states that had such a
"We recognized that there was a problem with open lots and their
compliance status and instead of going out and issuing enforcement to
all of these feedlots, we felt the better approach would be to work
with them and find the quickest way to get them into compliance," he
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