Dairy farm, owner, plead guilty to violating Clean Water Act

The Associated Press

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ASHEVILLE — A western North Carolina dairy farm described as one of the largest in the state and one of its owners has pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the Clean Water Act after animal waste was discharged into the French Broad River.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Asheville said Tap Root Dairy LLC, and 60-year-old William Franklin Johnston of Mills River entered pleas on Friday.

Documents show that from September through December 2012, Tap Root didn’t check and maintain levels of cow waste in its on-site containment lagoons. That led to a discharge of 11,000 gallons of cow feces and other waste into the river last December.

Johnston faces up to one year in prison. He’s agreed to pay a $15,000 fine. A sentencing date has not been set yet.