The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) says the cows were found in the production area of Rego Dairy #2 in Gustine, Merced County. The dairy is owned and operated by the Rego Family Trust.
The Water Board says the dairy was cited with a number of serious violations during a routine inspection in February.
"The unhealthy and dangerous conditions at this small dairy are severe," said Water Board Executive Officer Pamela Creedon. "The vast majority of dairy operators in the Central Valley Region work hard to follow good environmental practices and to abide by the Dairy General Order. This dairy's lack of good management practices and blatant disregard for the law impacts both surface and groundwater, posing dangers to public health and polluting the waters of the State of California."
In addition to the decaying cow carcasses, Water Board staff found violations at the dairy's wastewater lagoon, including eroded paths where wastewater had flowed off the property and into a nearby drainage ditch, excessive weeds and rodent holes, and multiple discarded veterinary medical supplies, including syringes.
Water Board inspectors found evidence of cropland being used as a dumping area for manure wastewater from the lagoon. While manure can be applied to grow some crops, dumping is prohibited because it can pollute both surface water and groundwater. The dairy was also found to be in violation of record-keeping requirements and of the permitted limits for herd size.
The Water Board says they are considering imposing penalties or referring the case to the Attorney General's office.