NC DEQ Cites, Fines Swine Farm for Wastewater Violation

DEQ began its investigation after an anonymous tip. The investigators estimated that 987,440 gallons of wastewater were illegally discharged from the lagoon, with contaminants from wastewater eventually making their way to a tributary of the Trent River 1.5 miles away.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has fined the owner of a Jones County swine farm $64,072 after the agency investigated and found the farm owner illegally discharged nearly 1 million gallons of wastewater from a hog waste lagoon on the farm into a nearby wooded area.


DEQ began its investigation after an anonymous tip. The investigators estimated that 987,440 gallons of wastewater were illegally discharged from the lagoon, with contaminants from wastewater eventually making their way to a tributary of the Trent River 1.5 miles away.


“Our investigation revealed this to be an egregious violation of state laws and we will hold the responsible party accountable,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “It is totally unacceptable and illegal for someone to knowingly discharge contaminated wastewater that threatened our rivers and streams.”


The owner was cited with multiple violations of his farm’s general permit, including a condition to not discharge wastewater from hog waste lagoons into surface water. By state law, animal feeding operations are permitted to use lagoons to store and treat wastewater and then use the wastewater as fertilizer for farming fields. The legal requirements include ensuring that the sprayfields are not oversaturated and the waste is contained to approved fields and does not reach surface waters.


The amount fined is based on factors including the amount of money the operator saved by not complying with state laws, as well as the amount of wastewater discharged and the extent of the damage done to the environment. The fine also accounted for the farm operator’s previous environmental violations.


The farm’s owner has 30 days to respond to DEQ’s fine assessment document by paying the fine, filing an appeal, or requesting a reduction of the penalty amount.

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