URGENT: Proposed Massive Factory Farm in Fillmore County Needs FULL Environmental Review

MPCA Public Informational Meeting scheduled for June 19, 2018

Catalpa LLC out of Waukon, Iowa, is proposing a massive factory hog farm in Fillmore County. The proposal is undergoing an initial environmental review. Due to public pressure, the comment period was extended until Tuesday, July 3, 2018, at 4:30 p.m.

Here are some of the details:

  • Catalpa, LLC proposes to build a 4,980-sow swine farrowing facility in Sections 7 and 18, Newburg Township.
  • This factory farm will generate 7.3 million gallons of liquid manure annually.
  • The facility will use 8.8 million gallons of groundwater annually, for a total consumption of 220 million gallons over 25 years.
  • The address listed for the permittee is Catalpa LLC, 10 9th St. SW, Waukon, IA 52172. This is the address for Waukon Feed Ranch.

This project is undergoing an initial Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) as required by law. The purpose of an EAW is to determine if an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed. An EIS fully considers the impacts and analyzes how the project can be built in a way that mitigates potential environmental harm. This includes fully considering the karst geology, impacts on property value, water availability and cumulative impacts. (For example, this farrowing operation will require nursery and finishing barns. What will be their impact?) The law requires that if the project has the potential for significant environmental impacts, then there must be an EIS. This decision is ultimately made by Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner John Linc Stine.

This site is located in a karst area that is rich with sinkholes, springs and creeks. It is also near a trout stream. Dr. Calvin Alexander, a professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and a nationally renowned karst geology expert, did a search of the area and discovered three additional sinkholes and 11 potential sinkholes that were missed in the EAW. As permission was being sought from the landowner for Dr. Alexander to walk the site and verify sinkholes, the proposer put this research off until Wednesday, May 30, the very day public EAW comments were initially due, making it impossible for this important information to be fully included in the comments.

ACT NOW. Submit your comments calling for an Environmental Impact Statement on the Catalpa, LLC factory hog farm by Tuesday, July 3, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.

Here is a link to the Environmental Assessment Worksheet that was submitted: Catalpa, LLC - EAW (p-ear2-144a).

Submit your comments to charles.peterson@state.mn.us.

Here are some suggested comments to cut and paste into your comments:

I also request that the proposed Catalpa, LLC factory hog farm in Newburg Township undergo an Environmental Impact Statement. The EAW clearly shows that this facility will have the potential for significant environmental impacts and therefore an EIS is required.

Prof. Calvin Alexander, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota and the state’s leading karst geology expert, did a search and discovered in the area three additional sinkholes and 11 potential sinkholes that were missed in the EAW. Permission was sought from the landowner for Dr. Alexander to walk the site and verify sinkholes; the landowner originally agreed but then canceled.

Three of our area’s 22 municipal sewage lagoons have collapsed, the most recent in 1992. (Altura in April 1976, Lewiston in 1991 and Bellchester in April 1992.) The MPCA must analyze what the impact of a catastrophic failure of this multi-million gallon manure lagoon would be, and that requires an EIS. The Fillmore County District Court agreed with this in a December 2000 ruling about locating a large feedlot and manure lagoon in Forestville Township. (For more information, see “Gambling on the Karst?”)

The EAW paperwork acknowledges on page 30 that the area is designated as posing a high risk to groundwater pollution. Fillmore County already has 15 percent of its wells exceeding the nitrate standard. The public well at the Newburg Methodist Church, located next to a proposed manure application field for the proposed project, has nitrates exceeding the state standard. The impact on the already stressed groundwater needs to be fully examined by an EIS.

Add where you are from and additional thoughts and concerns you have. The MPCA is required to respond to everyone who submits a comment.