Iowa Feedlot Operation Settles Discharge Allegations with $25 K

A Sioux County, Iowa, cattle feedlot operation has agreed to pay a $25,000 civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated the federal Clean Water Act by allowing manure and wastewater to discharge into the West Branch of the Floyd River.

Joel Schuiteman, doing business as Schuiteman Feedlots, is the named respondent in the proposed consent agreement and final order placed on public notice on Nov. 17 in Kansas City, Kan.

In May 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inspected Schuiteman's operation and documented that it was holding approximately 3,400 cattle in confinement barns and approximately 1,200 cattle in open feedlots. EPA also documented that Schuiteman's operation was discharging manure and wastewater into the West Branch of the Floyd River.

The West Branch has been on Iowa's list of impaired waters because of low biological diversity and past fish kills. Both of these impacts have been linked to runoff of wastes from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) such as Schuiteman's feedlot.

Under state and federal law, any animal feeding operation that confines 1,000 or more cattle must operate as a "no-discharge" facility, unless it has an approved National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. This includes operations that incorporate indoor and/or outdoor confinement of animals. Schuiteman did not have an NPDES permit, nor was he able to prevent unauthorized discharges from his outdoor pens.

On Sept. 9, 2008, EPA ordered Schuiteman to cease the outdoor confinement of cattle at the feedlot unless he could prevent all discharges of animal waste and wastewater from that portion of his feedlot. He no longer confines cattle outside.

Feedlot runoff typically contains such pollutants as organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, ammonia, as well as nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can harm aquatic life and impact water quality.

The proposed consent agreement with Schuiteman Feedlots is subject to a 40-day public comment period.

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