MPCA Rejects Public Call for In-depth Environmental Review of Massive Winona County Dairy Expansion

LEWISTON, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced today that it was rejecting the public's call for an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed massive expansion of a Winona County dairy farm. The Land Stewardship Project feels strongly that in making this decision, the MPCA failed in its obligation to protect the natural resources of rural communities, especially groundwater.

Over 600 citizens called on the MPCA to do an in-depth environmental review of the expansion, which is being proposed by Daley Farms. Among those calling for the review were neighboring residents who raised concerns about the likelihood of the proposal negatively impacting water quality, especially groundwater. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that 46 percent of the wells in Utica Township, where the expansion is proposed, test for nitrates over the 10mg/L maximum allowable for safe consumption. This project threatens to make this situation worse.

Dr. Calvin Alexander, Minnesota’s leading karst geology expert and a professor emeritus in Earth Sciences at the University of Minnesota, provided comments on this proposal to the MPCA. He concluded: “Given the prominent karst features all around the Daley Farms site, the nearby catastrophic collapse of the Lewiston Waste Water Treatment Lagoon on similar karst stratigraphy, the documented growing nitrate pollution of Lewiston’s wells and many local wells, and the enormous size of this proposed CAFO this facility should not be permitted at this site without a full scale EIS.”

Karen Ahrens, who lives within a mile of Daley Farms and whose family has farmland in the area, has been among those calling for an EIS.

“For at least 10 years, we’ve purchased bottled water for drinking and cooking because we’d get public notices saying, ‘Our water system recently violated a drinking water standard,’ " she said. "So, we [called for an EIS] for our health and safety.”

The Land Stewardship Project feels MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine’s call for further study of the problem of polluted groundwater in the karst area in the form of a Generic Environmental Impact Statement is no substitute for using the MPCA’s existing authority to protect water quality.

The MPCA’s decision is at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/p-ear2-143b.pdf.

More details on the public's demand for an EIS is at https://landstewardshipproject.org/posts/news/1134.

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