Walz Energy issued another consent order, $10,000 penalty

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By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a second administrative consent order to Walz Energy, LLC, including another $10,000 penalty, for ongoing violations at the 10,000-head cattle feedlot and biogas operation under construction outside Monona.

The consent order, which the DNR released Sept. 17, requires Walz Energy to cease all illegal discharges to waters of the state, comply with all conditions of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water permit, properly maintain food storage basins and maintain two feet of freeboard at all times. Walz Energy must also pay the $10,000 administrative penalty and comply with a consent order issued in August 2018 to address previous violations at the site.

According to the DNR’s report, Walz Energy has agreed to pay the administrative penalty, and, “in the interest of avoiding litigation, the parties have agreed to resolve the violations alleged herein through entry of this order.”

Walz Energy has been hit with multiple violations since construction began two years ago. Plans are to construct six open front cattle barns, to go with an additional barn already in existence, as well as a feed storage area, concrete transfer pits and a liquid manure storage lagoon with a capacity of nearly 39 million gallons. Also included on the site will be tanks for anaerobic digestion and methane production. Minimal work has been documented in the past year.

The latest notice of violation was issued on June 11, citing the facility’s failure to comply with its NPDES permit, as well as a discharge of storm water into nearby Bloody Run Creek, an Outstanding Iowa Water. It was the fifth issued to Walz Energy since the July 17, 2018 Iowa Environmental Protection Commission (EPC) meeting, when the EPC chose not to refer the facility to the state attorney general’s office for ongoing issues at the site that included illegal discharges to Bloody Run Creek and lack of storm water control work to stabilize and seed the construction area.

The DNR has continued to monitor the site, and Tom McCarthy, environmental specialist senior with the DNR’s Manchester office, noted in the consent order that compliance and upkeep of the site has improved over the summer. 

According to the DNR, failure to comply with any parts of the administrative consent order “may result in the imposition of further administrative penalties or referral to the Attorney General.”

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