July 11, 2012, Kansas City, KS – Adams Land and Cattle Company, a beef feedlot near Broken Bow, Neb., has agreed to pay a $145,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violating the federal Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit related to discharges of pollutants into Mud Creek.
In December 2010, EPA Region 7 inspected Adams’ facility, located just south of Broken Bow. The facility confined approximately 83,000 cattle at the time of the inspection. Inspectors reviewed facility operations, required record-keeping and waste management practices, and also visually inspected the facility. EPA inspectors documented that Adams had allowed its waste storage basins to overfill with manure solids and sediment to the point they could no longer store runoff from large rain events. A follow-up inspection was performed in December 2011.
Through these inspections and a review of records provided by Adams, the EPA concluded that the facility discharged process wastewater to an unnamed tributary of Mud Creek on 13 occasions between April 2007 and October 2010. The discharges were a result of inadequate storage capacity in holding basins, lack of controls necessary to prevent the Mud Creek tributary from flooding the holding ponds, and/or failure of piping associated with land application practices. Adams estimated that approximately 140 million gallons of process wastewater was released during these discharges, impacting Mud Creek and its tributary.
“The Clean Water Act requires feedlots properly maintain adequate storage capacity in their storage basins to prevent unauthorized wastewater discharges,” EPA Region 7 administrator Karl Brooks said. “Un-permitted discharges from improperly maintained storage basins can cause serious impacts to the water quality of nearby rivers and streams.”
On August 10, 2011, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality (NDEQ) filed a penalty action against Adams that addressed one of the discharges. The action required Adams pay a $5,800 penalty along with a $5,800 payment to the Broken Bow, Neb., Chapter of Pheasants Forever. The EPA’s penalty action announced penalizes Adams for the other 12 discharge events and related permit violations.
The EPA and NDEQ share legal authority and responsibility for protecting water quality in Nebraska. Given the recurrent nature of the violations, the EPA made the decision to exercise the enforcement authority that it shares with the State of Nebraska to resolve the issue.
By agreeing to the settlement, Adams Land and Cattle Company has certified that it is in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it becomes final.