By STEVE BROWN
LYNDEN, Wash. -- A Whatcom County dairy that was assessed a $17,000 fine for manure and water violations will take its case to a settlement hearing.
Mitch Moorlag, general manager of the Edaleen Dairy, said he has filed the paperwork for a hearing with the Washington State Department of Agriculture, but no date has yet been set.
"We have a soil-testing consultant who has worked with the WSDA," he said. "There seem to be quite a few holes in the sampling system."
In early April, the WSDA cited the dairy for two violations of the state's Water Pollution Control Act after inspections that began in November 2012.
The first inspection was prompted by a complaint that a worker was improperly applying manure to a field in the rain, which can accelerate manure nutrients leaching into groundwater or lead to runoff into ditches and streams.
A WSDA inspector visited the dairy twice over the next few days and found that material from the dairy's manure digester, called digestate, had been applied to a field saturated with water. The inspector also found standing water in some areas of the field and evidence that water containing digestate had flowed into a nearby ditch. This violation included a $9,000 fine.
Moorlag said the misapplication was a one-time event, caused by "miscommunication between manager and employee on the application."
The inspector also found a leaking valve in a waste water system that allowed water containing fecal matter at rates in excess of state regulations to leak into ditches that lead to Bertrand Creek, which is both salmon habitat and a human recreation area. This violation included an $8,000 fine.
The dairy has already taken action to "address the decision-making that resulted in the misapplication of fertilizer to a field." It is also inspecting its equipment to ensure it is in good operating condition.