Appeal from Circuit Court, Lane County. Roland K. Rodman, Judge.
Lawrence O. Gildea, Eugene, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs were Gildea, Speer & McGavic, P.C., Eugene.
Edward R. Fechtel, Eugene, argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Husband, Johnson & Frye, Eugene.
This is a suit in equity brought by the Spencer Creek Pollution Control Association to enjoin defendants, who operate a cattle feedlot, from interfering with the use and enjoyment of the plaintiffs' properties and to recover damages. Defendant appeals from a decree in favor of plaintiffs.
The members of the Association are owners of real property in the general vicinity of the feedlot
operation on the outskirts of Eugene, Oregon. The area is in a transitional stage, changing from agricultural to residential uses. Some of the plaintiffs raise livestock or poultry on their premises for profit or for pleasure. Others use their property primarily for residential purposes.
The feedlot operation in question was commenced in 1955 by defendant's predecessor in title on a 40-acre tract of land. Defendant purchased the land and business in 1968. The record is silent as to the number of cattle kept on the feedlot during the period from 1955 until December of 1968, except that there were about 1,000 head on the premises just prior to sale. Defendant took possession in January of 1969, and thereafter began to rehabilitate and improve various structures which had fallen into disrepair. By late January of 1970, a "lagoon" or "holding pond" waste management system was completed whereby contaminated liquid run-off would be trapped and periodically sprayed onto adjacent land owned by defendant. An additional 55 acres were purchased later that year to serve as receiving land for the effluent and for pasturage. Defendant's total investment at the time of trial, without cattle, was $286,500.
Confinement feeding of livestock is a relatively new production technique in Oregon. Defendant's feedlot is small as such operations go, with a maximum capacity of about 1,200 head. Cattle are either purchased or taken under contract by defendant and are fattened to market weight. They are fed combinations of grain and vegetable waste. The manure produced by the cattle is sold as fertilizer.
Plaintiffs complain that from the time defendant purchased the feedlot the sewage from the feedlot
operation ran onto some of their properties, and that the accumulation of animal and vegetable waste caused unpleasant odors and a proliferation of flies and other insects. Defendant concedes that such run-off took place in the winters of 1969 and 1970, but contends that its waste management program was ...