- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - A southeast Iowa hog producer that spilled thousands of gallons of manure into a dry creek in November reached an agreement to pay a fine and make improvements to prevent future discharges, state environmental regulators said Friday.

The Keosauqua-area hog farm owned by Carlysle, Ill.-based The Maschhoffs has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources said in a statement.

The company also signed a consent agreement with the department in which it promised to repair the equipment used to pump manure from hog buildings to a large outdoor lagoon that holds millions of gallons.

The spill happened Nov. 4, sending thousands of gallons of manure into a dry creek. Maschhoffs workers dug a pit to stop the manure flow and pumped manure back into the storage lagoon.

The DNR sent Maschhoffs a letter dated Nov. 19 that said the discharge violated state law.

Maschhoffs responded with a letter dated Dec. 12 saying the company followed Iowa’s regulations and that the spill was promptly stopped and the pipe repaired.

A company spokesman said it is committed to fully complying with the state’s rules and environmental laws to protect air and water quality.

“We always strive to be in full compliance with environmental protection laws wherever we do business. It’s part of our company’s culture,” said Tim Laatsch, executive vice president of production operations, in a statement.

“A consent order like this is the most effective way of ensuring that the necessary improvements to avoid future discharges get done as quickly as possible,” said Bill Ehm, administrator of the DNR’s Environmental Services Division.

The grass-roots community organization Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, which opposes large-scale livestock farms, continued its call for the DNR to force the farm to obtain a Clean Water Act permit, which the group believes would provide tougher enforcement.

“These kinds of remedial measures are the things that the DNR and the industry have used for years as an excuse to get out of the work that really needs to be done,” said David Goodner, farming and environment organizer at Iowa CCI. “Nothing short of a clean water permit is good enough for us. We can’t compromise our water quality any longer,” he said.

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