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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
August 27, 2008

Contact: Robert McCann (517) 241-7397

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Water Quality in Willow Creek

The Department of Environmental Quality announced today that the Department of Attorney General has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the DEQ asking the Huron County Circuit Court for preliminary and permanent injunctions against W. James Iseler who operates a dairy operation along the banks of Willow Creek near Kinde.

DEQ staff first responded to citizen complaints of masses of algae washing ashore in Lake Huron near the mouth of Willow Creek during the summer of 2006. DEQ staff observed that algal growth and bacterial slimes were evident in Willow Creek downstream of Iseler's Kinde Road dairy, but were less evident upstream of the dairy. DEQ staff also observed that Iseler's cows had unrestricted access to the creek and that manure from the upland portion of the dairy was flowing into Willow Creek in addition to the manure directly deposited into the creek by the cows. Administrative search warrants were executed in August 2006 and January 2008 so that DEQ staff could access the property and collect samples. Sample results confirm that the Kinde Road dairy operation is contributing nutrients, organic material, and harmful bacteria to Willow Creek in violation of state law.

In addition to seeking an order from the court restraining Iseler from further pollution of Willow Creek, the DEQ has asked the court to require the installation of permanent structures to prevent cow access to Willow Creek while still allowing Iseler to utilize the water for his animals. The DEQ is also asking that the court require the installation of appropriate waste storage structures to contain all agricultural waste produced by the dairy and prevent future discharges of waste to the creek. In addition, state law provides for fines up to $25,000 per day for unlawful discharges like the ones documented from the Iseler dairy operation.

In addition to the DEQ's lawsuit, Iseler currently has a petition pending before the State Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules seeking to overturn the DEQ's denial of a permit application submitted by Iseler seeking permission to place a fence directly in Willow Creek.
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