The Washington State Department of Ecology has fined three farmers a total of more than $600,000 for illegally pumping more than 500 million gallons of groundwater from the Odessa aquifer.
One farm irrigated 65 acres of alfalfa, another 130 acres of timothy hay and a third 335 acres of alfalfa and potatoes.
Ecology says that Michael Schmidt, Ron Fode, and Randy and Michele Kiesz disregarded warnings and orders from the department to stop irrigating during the 2017 growing season.
Mary Verner, Ecology’s Water Resources program manager said the farmers willfully ignored the law and that it isn’t fair to other irrigators who follow the law or to local communities and rural landowners who depend on this groundwater for their drinking water.”
Penalties can be appealed to the Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.
If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.