Barb Nelson: Daley Farms expansion needs full environmental review

October 10, 2018

The Daley farm on Hwy. 14 in Utica Township near Lewiston wants to expand their 1,600 cow mega-dairy to 4,600 cows. This would make it one of the 10 largest dairy farms in the state. All the other dairies of this size are in western Minnesota. It will generate 46 million gallons of liquid manure and wastewater a year in our high-risk karst area. It would use 92 million gallons of water a year. For sure this will have a significant impact on our Winona County environment.

Right now, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has started the mandatory basic environmental assessment of the project called an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (Editor’s note: You can read the worksheet at bit.ly/daleyfarms ). The purpose of this is to determine whether an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement is needed. It is this EIS that deeply evaluates the potential harm and looks at ways to reduce the harm. The law says clearly if a “project has the potential for significant environmental impact” then an EIS is required. Of course, a mega-dairy this size in a high risk karst area where groundwater is already polluted will have a significant impact.

We should all remember that due to sinkholes, Lewiston’s municipal sewage lagoons collapsed in 1992. Two other municipal sewage lagoons in the area have also collapsed — Altura in 1976 and Bellchester in 1992. The Daleys are adding a 13.6-million-gallon liquid manure storage basin. They already have four that can store 22 million gallons. So in that one small area will be stored up to 35.6 million gallons of raw liquid manure. What if a sinkhole opens beneath one of them? That means millions of gallons of liquid manure flowing into our groundwater. Also, these manure lagoons allow for seepage. What is the impact of that on our drinking water? This also means 35.6 million gallons of raw liquid manure must be spread every year in the area. What will that impact be on water quality?

The MPCA makes the final decision on doing an EIS unless the Daleys do the right thing and volunteer for one. For sure, without an EIS we won’t get a full review of the harm and how it might be avoided. Right now, the MPCA is taking comments on the environmental worksheet here: bit.ly/daley_comment.

There is a limit to how big you can get before you start impacting everybody’s air, water, and quality of life. We need an in-depth Environmental Impact Statement to look into that. An EIS just makes sense.

Barb Nelson, Lewiston

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