BLOOMINGTON — The state is suing a Bellflower dairy accused of releasing raw sewage into Lone Tree Creek three times, killing more than 200,000 fish and other aquatic life, including some on the state's endangered species list.
A June 2 hearing is scheduled in the lawsuit filed in McLean County by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office against Stone Ridge Dairy and its owners, the George Kasbergen family.
Kasbergen did not return a call for comment on the litigation on Tuesday.
The lawsuit filed last month claims that runoff from the state's largest dairy, located south of Bellflower, contaminated the creek and the Sangamon River in three incidents between the business's opening in 2002 and Sept. 10, 2010.
The source of the contaminant was "insufficiently treated human waste from an overloaded, undersized, improperly chlorinated, sand-filed septic system" at the dairy facility and a tile system linked to the Lotus Drainage District, said the lawsuit.
The state Department of Natural Resources initiated an investigation into the fish kills in September 2010 after the agency received a call from a concerned resident who reported brown-stained water in the creek.
The IDNR estimated that about 40,000 fish were killed at that time. Other aquatic life including mudpuppies — a threatened species in Illinois — crayfish, frogs and mussels were also killed.
The lawsuit documents two previous incidents, one in 2003 where 65,000 fish were killed and a 2004 investigation where investigators collected 104,000 dead fish and other aquatic life.
The state is seeking reimbursement of $7,165 for its costs related to the investigations and the unspecified value of the fish and aquatic life.
Lawyers for the state note in court documents that no fish kills have occurred in the area since 2010 when the facility "stopped overloading its sand filter septic system and has made significant progress toward removal of remnant field tile and installation of an extensively upgraded field tile grid in its waste application fields."