Manure Manager

Features Regional Regulations
EPA orders Simplot to change watering method


June 14, 2010
By Manure Manager

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June 14, 2010, Seattle,
WA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a legal
order to the Simplot Cattle Feeding Company demanding the company halt
discharges from its nearly 700-acre feedlot complex near Grand View, ID.

June 14, 2010, Seattle,
WA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a legal
order to the Simplot Cattle Feeding Company demanding the company halt
discharges from its nearly 700-acre feedlot complex near Grand View, ID.

Simplot confines between
30,000 and 65,000 cattle year round at this feedlot facility near the Snake
River in southeastern Idaho.

EPA’s order directs
Simplot to immediately cease all discharge of pollutants to waters of the U.S.
This action is particularly important because the Snake River has been
designated as “impaired” for both bacteria and nutrients.

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The order stems from
Simplot’s use of a constant flow stock watering system. When not used for
irrigation (usually from November to March), a portion of this water is
diverted to pasture, irrigation ditches, or into the Ted Trueblood Wildlife
Refuge
, all of which ultimately flow into the Snake River. Simplot water
samples pulled from the facility’s discharge were shown to contain 1600
colonies of fecal bacteria per 100 ml of sample.

Simplot is covered under
an NPDES CAFO permit, and by discharging 1500 gallons per minute from the
production area, the EPA says they are violating their permit. While the EPA
recognizes that many producers use similar systems at their facilities, CAFO
regulations apply to feedlots and dairies. They do not typically apply to
rangeland. If watering system flows are re-used and/or do not leave the
facility, they are not considered a discharge.

According to Edward
Kowalski, director of EPA’s office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle,
when pollution is discharged to surface waters from watering systems, the EPA
will take appropriate action.

Simplot’s watering
system adds fecal bacteria to the Snake River,” said Kowalski. “It discharges a
tremendous volume of contaminated water to a river already impaired by bacteria
and nutrient pollution. By re-routing overflows or storing water for future
use, producers can take care of their livestock and protect Idaho water
quality.”

To comply with the
order, Simplot must cease all discharges to the Snake River and its tributaries
immediately.


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