Idaho Dairyman Sent to Jail for Violating Clean Water Act



An Idaho dairyman has been sentenced to 60 days in jail, three years of probation and a $12,000 fine for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Mike Vierstra of Twin Falls was charged with negligent discharge of wastewater from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation into a federally protected waterway. He didn't have a permit for such discharges.

"Large farms and dairies can cause serious damage to the environment through the illegal discharge of wastewater," said Tyler Amon, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency's criminal enforcement program.

The EPA's file on Vierstra began on May 31, 2009, when a neighbor complained that waste from Vierstra's dairy farm was being discharged into the Low Line Canal in the Magic Valley. The following day, another complaint was filed from the Twin Falls Canal Company. Inspectors tracked waste to Vierstra Dairy, where it was determined that the source of the animal waste was an open pipe on the dairy's property.

Vierstra was convicted by a federal jury in Boise on March 23 of negligent discharge of a pollutant into a U.S. waterway without a permit.

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