July 16, 2008

Orland Dairies Cited By State for Wastewater Discharge

By Rick Longley, Orland Press Register, Calif.

Jul. 16--Three Orland area dairies are facing proposed fines for alleged off-property wastewater discharge violations in February.

The California Regional Water Quality Control Board is suggesting fines from $5,000 to $10,000 be levied against the dairies, and the assistant executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has issued an administrative civil liability complaint against them.

These complaints were issued to the Nick Beglinger Dairy, Silveira- Jerstein Dairy and Frank Melo Dairy for alleged violations of waste discharge requirements under the general order for existing milk cow dairies.

Water control board officials say this order was adopted in May 2007 by the regional board to ensure existing dairies manage manure and manure wastewater in ways that protect the quality of surface and ground water.

The board alleges in all three cases manure wastewater flowed off the diary properties and into drains that discharge into the Sacramento River.

Nick Beglinger said Monday he had no comment on the allegations at this time because he is waiting for people to tell him what he supposedly did wrong, and he could not comment until he understood the complaint better.

Beglinger runs 245 milk cows on County Road 16 and has a 10-acre production area for his barns, corrals, etc. There also is a 100-acre area used for crop land and manure application, water board officials said.

Operator Manuel Silveira said someone left a valve open at his dairy in February, but not a lot of waste escaped since the water level was very low. He fixed a gate for the site, Silveira said, and he denies any of the waste went into the Sacramento River. He also said he was paying for something he did not do. The dairy is owned by Diego Fernandez of San Diego, according to the water board complaint. This dairy has 276 cows and a 12-acre production site.

Representatives for the Frank Melo Dairy could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning. Melo runs 310 cows and has a 20-acre production facility on County Road 21. There also is larger acreage surrounding the barns for waste disposal and crop land.

Charlene Herbst, chief of the water board's confined animal facility regulatory unit, said all three dairies received their citations for manure waste water discharge off their properties.

She confirmed the Silveira Jerstein Dairy was cited for a valve being left open in a field, and the dairy faces a fine of $5,000, she said.

The Melo Dairy was cited for having its waste lagoons overtop and the discharge allegedly went into a ditch, Herbst said. It faces a fine of $8,000.

And the Beglinger Dairy also allegedly had its lagoons over top one day in February, she said, and run into a field.

On the next day, the Beglinger Dairy was attempting to fix the problem by diverting the lagoon water into crop land. However, the waste still allegedly went off the property, Herbst said. Its fine is $10,000.

Ken Landau of the Water Board said the dairies have 30 days to decide if they want to pay the fines, which is Aug. 11.

Or they may come in and explain why the board is wrong, he said. In which case, the board could withdraw the citations or amend the amount leading to a settlement.

The dairies also may request a hearing before the water board in September, and hearings likely could be held anyway whether they request it or not, Landau said.

There also is an appeal procedure if the dairies disagree with the board's decision, he said.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Orland Press Register, Calif.

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