A Bloomer septic waste hauler has paid $32,500 to the state of Wisconsin in a settlement for allegedly improperly disposing of septic wastes and not keeping proper records.
According to court records obtained by The Chetek Alert, Bischel’s Septic Service, owned by Jonathon Bischel, of Bloomer, paid $30,500, plus $2,000 in attorney’s fees, in September 2018. A lawsuit was filed on Aug. 7, 2018, against Bischel by then Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, on behalf of the Department of Natural Resources, and a settlement agreement was reached later that month.
State statutes allow for the spreading of septage—the wastes removed from septic tanks—on approved agricultural fields with a special permit. The septage must be injected into the ground or spread over the surface and the vehicles spreading must be moving in order to prevent pooling of the septage. Spreading while stationary is called “spot dumping” and is illegal.
Statutes also specify the septage must be tested and treated for 30 minutes, such as with lime, to deter the attraction of rodents or flies and the spread of diseases. Any landspreading must not leave any litter behind on the fields.
According to the court complaint, tipsters told DNR wardens in early July 2014 that Bischel was improperly spot dumping at three locations in the town of Big Bend, Rusk County. A tipster said two of the locations, in the 13000 block of Wilson Road, were near a well and it was running off into a wetland. Records said Bischel was permitted to landspread at these locations, but wardens allegedly found evidence of spot dumping. Wardens also allegedly found litter at the third location, near the intersection of Kramer Road and Hwy. 40.
At another permitted field, near the intersection of 90th Street and 295th Avenue in the town of Sampson, Chippewa County, wardens allegedly found evidence of spot dumping and litter on the ground, including toilet paper, plastic tampon sleeves, wipes, food wrappers and clothes.
Following another tip, wardens allegedly saw Bischel spot dump three times at a gravel pit he owned in the 13000 block of CTH SS, in the town of Woodmohr, Chippewa County. This gravel pit was not permitted for landspreading.
With a search warrant, DNR investigators installed a GPS tracking device on the septic truck Bischel was driving between Aug. 28, 2014, and Sept. 18, 2014.
During this time, GPS logs revealed:
• On 15 occasions, Bischel allegedly pumped septic tanks and then immediately landspread the septage without treating it with lime for 30 minutes.
• On 40 occasions, Bischel allegedly spot dumped while stationary.
• On 35 occasions, Bischel allegedly landspread at the gravel pit, which was not permitted for landspreading.
Investigators also reviewed Bischel’s invoices and allegedly found 39 instances of improper recordkeeping.
The complaint listed the violations, including failing to treat the septage to deter rodents, failing to properly landspread, disposing of septage at an unauthorized location, failure to leave fields in a litter-free condition and improper record keeping.
Statutes state each instance or day that a violation occurs can result in a fine of up to $5,000.
On Aug. 20, 2018, Chippewa County Circuit Court Judge Steven Cray approved a settlement and a judgment of $20,661.56 in fines, a $5,372.01 penalty surcharge, a $4,132.31 environmental surcharge, $334.12 in justice system surcharges and $2,000 in attorney’s fees.
The agreement stated it did not construe as an admission of liability on Bischel’s behalf, nor did it affect the veracity of the state’s claims.