April 29, 2014, Guelph, Ont – Following an appeal, two hog farming businesses and a director pleaded guilty and were fined for discharging pig manure into the Thames River and Sweets Creek, impairing the quality of water, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act.
The director also pleaded guilty and was fined for failing to take reasonable care to prevent the discharges, contrary to the Ontario Water Resources Act. The total fines for the offences were $120,000.
In April 2007, the main water pipe in a pig barn located on Braemar Sideroad in the Township of East Zorra-Tavistock, burst and flooded the barn. The liquid eventually overflowed the barn, entered the fields and flowed down towards the edge of the property where it ponded just above the valley brim. Although a farm worker attended the barn to fix the pipe, he did not follow the flow of liquid to see whether it had entered the Thames River.
In response to a complaint from a tenant on the farm in May 2007 an environmental agricultural officer of the ministry attended the property and observed a small stream of liquid running from the barn and signs of a larger flow sometime earlier. He followed the path through the field to where it had ponded just before the valley brim. Below the valley brim. a similar stream of liquid flowed down the slope and into the Thames River.
Samples taken by the officer close to the barn and entrance point into the Thames River proved that pig manure had entered the waterway. Charges were subsequently laid.
In May 2007, in response to a complaint of a pig manure spill, a Provincial officer and two inspectors from Environment Canada attended a hog farm located on Maple Dell Road in the Township of Norwich, County of Oxford. The officers observed that the water in Sweets Creek was murky and found that the manure being spread on the field had entered Sweets Creek through a hidden tile drain under the creek bed without a catch basin.
The company immediately brought in a backhoe to dig up the tile to stop the discharge. A ministry inspector took water samples that revealed manure had entered the creek.