A federal judge refused to dismiss two lawsuits by environmental groups targeting two North Carolina farms owned by Brown’s of Carolina, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

The lawsuit was brought by the Waterkeepers Alliance of White Plains, N.Y., the Neuse River Foundation of New Bern, N.C. and the foundation river keeper, Tom Jones in February as part of a national legal campaign to eliminate the open pits and spray fields used to dispose of hog waste. The case now appears to be headed to court.

The suits allege that the farms violate the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, saying that the hog operations are concentrated feeding operations discharging pollutants into navigable waters. As such, they claim the farms must obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits under the federal Clean Water Act.

Smithfield disagrees, saying the lagoon and spray systems do not discharge into navigable waters, and that any runoff falls within the exemption for agricultural storm water. The judge said that as a point source for pollution, the manure generated from the operation and spread on fields is not exempt.

Jacksonville Daily News