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Judge orders Addison County dairy farm to reduce water runoff, manure odor impact on neighbors

A brown plume going into blue-green waters
Vicki Hopper
Conservation Law Foundation, Courtesy
This aerial photograph documents water running off into Lake Champlain in April of 2018.

An Addison County judge has ordered a large dairy farm to reduce the impact of its water runoff and manure odors.

In a decision issued Monday, Addison Superior Court Judge Mary Miles Teachout determined that Vorsteveld Farm in Panton, through its installation of tile drainage in fields and two new manure pits, created excessive water runoff and an odor “unusually noxious and offensive” for its downslope neighbors, the Hoppers.

The Hoppers filed the lawsuit. They did not ask for money, but for a plan to stop the runoff and odor.

While the Hoppers suggested a remedial plan, Teachout wrote in the decision that it should be up to the Vorsteveld Farm how “to dispose of its own waste products responsibly rather than discharge them onto their neighbor’s land.”

More from VPR: Neighbors Object As Farm Facing Environmental Violations Seeks To Expand

Vorsteveld Farm, which milks more than 1,000 cows and manages 2,500 acres of land, has previously been sued and fined.

According to court documents, the farm payed a $30,000 settlement to the town of Panton after cutting down trees in the town right-of-way.

And just four months ago, Vorsteveld Farm agreed in environmental court to pay $21,750 in state fines after removing vegetation, dredging and filling a wetlands area connected to Dead Creek in 2016 and 2017.

As part of its settlement with the state, the farm also committed to making structural improvements to prevent farm runoff, and to implement a wetlands restoration plan.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet digital producer Elodie Reed @elodie_reed.

Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
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