A coalition of two activist organizations sent a notice of intent to sue Illinois-based The Maschhoffs, LLC over discharges of nutrient waste to waterways from one of its Iowa farms.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) intend to file suit alleging violations of the federal Clean Water Act unless the facility obtains a Clean Water Act permit and the company can guarantee that its almost 7,500-head Keosauqua sow facility will not discharge any further pollution into Iowa’s waterways.
Iowa CCI is represented by The Environmental Integrity Project while the Humane Society of the United States is represented by David Sykes of David E. Sykes, P.C. in Fairfield Iowa and lawyers with the HSUS animal protection litigation section. The groups will file suit at the end of sixty days.
The sow facility, located in Van Buren County, Iowa near the Des Moines River, is one of the largest hog operations in Iowa. On November 4, a clogged pipe in the facility’s manure management system caused the discharge of waste into an on-site creek. The creek empties into a section of the Des Moines River that is listed as impaired due to biological pollutants.
In 2011, another clogged pipe at the facility caused more than 9,000 gallons of manure to flow into the same creek. And in 2007, operators failed to move the center-pivot irrigator used to spray liquid waste on fields, leading to a discharge of approximately 6,000 gallons of manure into the creek.
The Department of Natural Resources’ most recent inspection of the facility was in August of this year. The inspection resulted in a citation to the facility for record keeping errors, but the agency failed to require it to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, despite numerous warning signs. The inspection came shortly after Iowa recently entered into an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to improve the Iowa DNR’s regulation of the state’s 8,500 large farms. This agreement, which was spurred by a petition from Iowa CCI, EIP and the Iowa Sierra Club, includes mandatory Iowa DNR inspections to determine if a factory farm must acquire a permit under the Clean Water Act.