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.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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