The North Dakota Department of health has penalized two septic tank pumping companies for improper disposal of domestic wastewater in western North Dakota, and has also fined each driver responsible for improper disposal an individual penalty of $1,500.
MonDak Water & Septic Service, which is based in Stanley, was fined $200,000 and Hurley Enterprises Inc., based in Fairview, Mont., was fined $500,000.
There are guidelines in place on how waste water is supposed to be spread on agricultural lands, says Dennis Fewless, Director of Water Quality at the
Division of Environmental Health at the North Dakota Department of Health. The companies were not following those guidelines, which call for an even, thin spread "like farmers do with manure" to ensure best use, but were instead often dumping the waste water in the same spots leading to soil erosion and waste.
"There was information given to the drivers," Fewless said about fining noncompliant drivers directly, "but they decided to spread it the way they wanted to."
"The first $250 (thousand) goes to the state," Fewless said of Hurley's fine. The second half goes into a state training program for septic tank pumper compliance. "They wanted to put half their money into a training program."
Likewise, MonDak, which paid $300,000 less in monetary fines because Hurley had apparently committed more offenses, has constructed regional domestic wastewater treatment lagoons.
Representatives of both companies were not immediately available to offer comment when called Friday afternoon.
"I'm sure there are more issues out there and we're acquiring more staff" to help deal with other companies breaking the rules, Fewless said. Fining these two companies, though, is a way to let others know that "this is something you need to follow."