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Brown County CAFO must pay $320K for wastewater violations

CAFO operated illegally, allowed manure to run off into nearby waterways

A dairy on one of the proposed routes of California's high-speed rail system
In this photo taken Tuesday, July 16, 2013, cows feed at a dairy owned by Lucas Loganberg and his family, that sits on one of the proposed routes of California’s high-speed rail system, near Hanford, Calif. Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

Operators of a large-scale dairy farm in Brown County must pay $320,000 for 19 violations of Wisconsin wastewater laws under a settlement reached with the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

Roy Pansier, Glen Pansier, and Jason Pansier with Ledgeview Farms in De Pere operated their concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, for years without a required wastewater discharge permit, according to a DOJ news release issued Friday. A 2021 complaint filed in Brown County states the farm doubled in size from 780 to 1,568 animal units between 2013 and 2014 without applying for a permit.

While operating illegally, the farm’s owners and operators allowed manure and wastewater to run off into nearby waterways. Even after Ledgeview Farms obtained a permit, it continued to release manure and wastewater into surrounding waterways.

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“Those who break our laws and pollute Wisconsin water should be held to account,” Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a statement. “Thank you to the DOJ and DNR public servants that fought for clean water in Brown County.”

In April 2013, samples of contaminated runoff were taken by an enforcement officer with the Environmental Protection Agency. They showed high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, total nitrogen and phosphorus.

Ledgeview Farms didn’t have sufficient manure storage, and operators failed to make changes to multiple facilities.

As part of the settlement, the Pansiers must stop using a feed storage area that fails to adequately capture wastewater runoff. Contaminated runoff from that area flowed through a residential neighborhood on at least two occasions in October 2019, according to the DOJ.

The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved the proposed settlement on Feb. 15, and the Brown County Circuit Court signed off on the agreement on Feb. 28. The farm’s violations were first reported as a tip by a member of the public. The DOJ said people can report tips anonymously to the DNR Tip Hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR or 1-800-847-9367.