Evangeline Training Center

An aspiring trainer works with one of the horses at the Evangeline Training Center on July 24.

Horse manure helped bring down a popular Louisiana stable.

The Evangeline Training Center in Carencro announced in June it would close, in part, because of new environmental laws. Recent court documents show the center owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for contaminating the Vermilion River.

The facility, which trained racehorses and stabled hundreds of animals, was simply allowing too much manure to escape the site. The waste made its way into the Francois Coulee, which feeds into the Vermilion River, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico.

The EPA sampled the wastewater generated at Evangeline in 2015 for bacterial fecal coliform. The standard for recreational bodies of water is 400 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters. One outfall at the stable had 16,000 cfu, according to documents filed last year in federal court.

Rather than test for every possible contaminant, regulators look for fecal coliform to get a sense of whether a waterway is at risk.

"Although they are generally not harmful themselves, they indicate the possible presence of pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that also live in human and animal digestive systems. Therefore, their presence in streams suggests that pathogenic microorganisms might also be present and that swimming and eating shellfish might be a health risk," according to the EPA website.

The Evangeline Training Center was fined $300,000, of which half will go to the state and half to the EPA, according to a consent decree filed last week.

Attempts to contact the center Monday were unsuccessful, and its phone number was no longer in service. The company posted a notice on Facebook in July to let boarders know that after 12 years in operation, it was shutting down and horses would need to be lodged elsewhere.

"Due to the new standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Environmental Quality, combined with the decline in the horse racing industry and the most recent hit we have taken due to the Evangeline Downs expansion of new barns, we have decided that it is not financially feasible to continue with out operations or to devote the proper investment necessary to bring the facilities up to industry standards," the company wrote this summer. 

Had the facility remained open, it would have had to implement new monitoring and water sampling practices and install additional equipment such as gutters and a water retention system to which all  drainage ditches would flow.

Acadiana business today: NextGen withdraws offer to manager LUS; Sales in Lafayette Parish up 3.3% from last year

Follow Steve Hardy on Twitter, @SteveRHardy.