U.S. Water News Online
WACO, Texas -- Waco has agreed to drop federal lawsuits
against six dairies in exchange for farmers' operational changes
designed to reduce water pollution blamed for the foul taste and odor
in the city's drinking water, officials announced.
In a joint statement by the city of Waco and the dairies in Erath,
Hamilton and Bosque counties, officials said the disputes were
resolved "after complicated negotiations'' during two extended
mediations. The terms of the settlement are confidential and have
been sealed by a federal judge.
"We are pleased with this settlement because it accomplishes the
city's goal of guaranteeing that the long-term future operation of
these six dairies will not adversely affect water quality in the
North Bosque River and Lake Waco,'' Waco City Manager Larry Groth
said in the release.
The city also will withdraw opposition to the dairies' state
operational permits. City Attorney Art Pertile said that no one from
the city would comment beyond the joint statement.
Waco sued 14 dairies in 2004, blaming them for the overabundance
of phosphorus in the river, the main source of Lake Waco. The
phosphorus stemming from cattle waste causes massive algae blooms
that can taint the water's taste and odor. The city later reached
settlements with eight dairies.
Some of the dairies have ceased operations. Other agreed to
changes, including hauling half of the solid manure to a composting
facility or outside the watershed. Some agreements also called for
farmers not to apply manure or wastewater to fields of forage crops
that are above a certain phosphorus concentration.
In some cases, the city will be allowed to monitor dairy
operations and perform certain tests to ensure compliance.
Fort Worth attorney James Bradbury, who represents some dairies,
said his clients are glad that the disputes have been resolved,
"although we believed a trial would prove the dairies are good
stewards of the environment.''
John Cowan, executive director of the Texas Association of
Dairymen, said the lawsuits never should have been filed because they
cost both sides time and money, hurt an industry that is a major
contributor to the Central Texas economy and "didn't make Lake Waco's
water any cleaner.''
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