More than 50 dead and decomposing cows have been found at a central California dairy.
The carcasses were found partially buried in manure piles in the dairy’s production area, according to a press release from the California Regional Water Quality Control Board.
The dairy is owned and operated by the Rego Family Trust, the Board reported. It was further identified as Rego Dairy #2 in Gustine, Calif.
A reporter contacted the dairy’s owner, Franklin Rego, who gives his explanation here.
For photos and video from KFSN-TV in Fresno, Calif., click here.
“The unhealthy and dangerous conditions at this small dairy are severe,” said Water Board Executive Officer Pamela Creedon. “The vast majority of dairy operators in the Central Valley Region work hard to follow good environmental practices and to abide by the Dairy General Order. This dairy’s lack of good management practices and blatant disregard for the law impacts both surface and groundwater, posing dangers to public health and polluting the waters of the State of California.”
In addition to the decaying cow carcasses, Water Board staff found violations at the dairy’s wastewater lagoon, including eroded paths where wastewater had flowed off the property and into a nearby drainage ditch, excessive weeds and rodent holes, and multiple discarded veterinary medical supplies, including syringes, the Board said.
Water Board inspectors found evidence of cropland being used as a dumping area for manure wastewater from the lagoon. While manure can be applied to grow some crops, dumping is prohibited because it can pollute both surface water and groundwater, according to the Board’s statement.
The Water Board has directed the dairy owner to take a number of steps including:
• Immediately stop all off-property discharges of waste to surface water.
• Begin removal of dead animals buried at the site by March 22, and complete removal by March 30.
• Submit proof of legal disposal of the carcasses by April 6.
• Provide proper paperwork, sampling results, written confirmation of the number of mature cows at the dairy by March 30.
The Water Board is considering further enforcement actions against the dairy, which may include the imposition of penalties or referral to the Attorney General’s office.