Idaho feedlot manager receives fine

Dec 31, 2009

Cory King, a manager at Double C Farms who operates a 400-acre feedlot near Burley, ID, has been ordered to pay $5,000 in fines, plus serve three years of probation and four months of home detention, following his conviction for violating federal drinking water laws and lying to an investigator about illegally injecting fluids into groundwater four years ago.

A Pocatello, ID, jury convicted King in April of four felony counts of violating the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and related state laws. During a trial, federal prosecutors argued King used irrigation wells and pipes to divert fluids into the Snake River Aquifer without permits.

On Dec. 15, U.S. District Judge B. Linn Winmill ruled they failed to make a convincing, clear case the fluids were contaminated by manure and bacteria, which would have meant stiffer punishment, or that King knowingly polluted the aquifer.

Mark Measer, agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 10 criminal investigation division, said it was an important victory for the government and Idahoans that King was held responsible for his culpability. He said EPA wants to ensure protective drinking water regulations are vigorously enforced.

King argued during the investigation and trial that he was injecting nothing more than creek water. Winmill rejected his motion for a new trial in September.

King’s defense lawyers said they plan to appeal the conviction and argue the federal government has no authority to regulate Idaho’s groundwater and lacks jurisdiction to prosecute alleged violations.

Boise, ID, attorneys Larry Westberg and David Lombardi said the fact Winmill found no evidence of pollution was a significant victory, but they were disappointed with the jury’s verdict.

In January 2008, a federal grand jury indicted King on charges of incorrectly installing backflow valves on irrigation wells after Idaho State Department of Agriculture officials in May 2005 reviewed irrigation wells, waste containment ponds and related infrastructure during a routine inspection which raised concerns. — Mark Mendiola, WLJ correspondent