State wins case against Vreba-Hoff 10.27

Written by David Green.

Operators of the two Vreba-Hoff dairies northwest of Morenci have long maintained that the liquid manure they use to irrigate fields is diluted sufficiently for safe application.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) faults the dairies for failing to meet the treatment standards established in the farms’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.

An NPDES permit is issued to regulate the discharge of pollutants into surface waters. In Vreba-Hoff’s case, the permit requires the treatment of liquid manure to meet concentration-based limits, imposed in 2007 as part of a modification of a previous court order.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge James Giddings last week ordered Vreba-Hoff to cease irrigation of wastewater that fails to meet permitted standards. In addition, the dairies were ordered to maintain compliance with all storage capacity requirements of the permit.

In September 2010, Giddings found there was no factual dispute that Vreba-Hoff continued to violate the permit limits as alleged by the DNRE in its lawsuit against the dairies, and he found that Vreba-Hoff had no plan to correct the violations.

An order in favor of the DNRE was granted then, but the parties were granted additional time to negotiate a remedy. Giddings agreed last week that negotiations failed to result in a solution.

The DNRE lawsuit charged that Vreba-Hoff irrigated fields in 2008 and 2009 with wastewater that failed to reach permitted levels, and continued to “unlawfully irrigate” this year after the DNRE’s lawsuit was filed in December 2009.

Earlier this month, the Circuit Court approved a $580,000 lien against the dairies on behalf of the DNRE to cover unpaid penalties and financial assurance.

Vreba-Hoff also faces foreclosure action from a mortgage company on $55 million in loans.

  • Play Practice
    DRAMA—Fayette schools, in conjunction with the Opera House Theater program, will present two plays Friday night at the Fayette Opera House. From the left is Autumn Black, Wyatt Mitchell, Elizabeth Myers, Jonah Perdue, Sam Myers (in the back) and Lauren Dale. Other cast members are Brynn Balmer, Mason Maginn, Ashtyn Dominique, Stephanie Munguia and Sierra Munguia. Jason Stuckey serves as the technician and Trinity Leady is the backstage manager. The plays will be performed during the day Friday for students and for the public at 7 p.m. Friday.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rover
    CLEARING THE WAY—Road crossings in the area on the construction route of the Rover natural gas pipeline are marked with poles and flags as preliminary work nears. Ditches and field entry points are covered with thick planks in many areas to support equipment for tree clearing operations. Actual pipeline construction is progressing across Ohio toward a collecting station near Defiance. That segment of the project is expected to wrap up in July. The 42-inch line through Michigan and into Ontario is scheduled for completion in November. The line is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas every day.
  • Front.geese
    ON THE MOVE—Six goslings head out on manuevers with their parents in an area lake. Baby waterfowl are showing up in lakes and ponds throughout the area.
  • Accident
    FAYETTE resident Patricia Stambaugh, 64, was declared dead on the scene of a single-vehicle accident Friday morning south of Morenci. Rescue units were called around 9 a.m., but as of Tuesday, law enforcement officers had not yet determined the time of the accident. According to Ohio State Highway Patrol, Stambaugh was driving west on U.S. 20 when her Chevrolet Malibu traveled off the north side of the road and down a steep embankment, coming to rest in Bean Creek (Tiffin River).
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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