$2.8 Million Fine Levied Against Horse Racing Facility

October 8, 2020

EPA reached an agreement this week with the owners of a New Orleans horse racing facility to settle claims that it violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging animal wastes and process wastewater into an area canal that flows into Lake Pontchartrain.

Churchill Downs Louisiana Horseracing Company, the track, technically considered a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO),  agreed to pay $5.6 million for upgrades and improvements to the facility’s horse waste management system, and $2.8 million in a civil penalty, while not admitting any wrongdoing.

EPA claimed that the facility illegally discharged horse manure, urine and other process wastewaters into the city’s sewage management system approximately 250 times from 2012 to 2018. This is the largest financial settlement with a CAFO under the CWA. The “Fair Grounds” racing facility is surrounded by residential neighborhoods that are considered environmental justice communities. During a typical horse racing season, Fair Grounds stables 1,800 horses, or more, at one time.

As part of the settlement, Fair Grounds will implement best management practices and construction projects designed to ensure compliance with its CWA permit. It will also perform site-specific sampling, monitoring and hydraulic modeling to help EPA to determine whether the remedial actions required by the consent decree are successful in eliminating unauthorized discharges. Fair Grounds agreed to implement additional remedial measures if these actions do not eliminate the discharges.