Environmental review of proposed dairy in Chippewa County open for public comment

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-979-1776

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released for public review the draft permit and environmental assessment worksheet (EAW), including estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for a proposed dairy in Chippewa County.

Riverview, LLP proposes to build a 10,500-head dairy farm in Section 23 of Grace Township, Chippewa County. About 23 miles west of Willmar on the south side of State Highway 40, Grace Dairy will house Jersey cows in a total confinement, free-stall barn. Clay-lined basins, with impermeable covers, will collect and store liquid manure and wastewater.

Following an MPCA-approved manure management plan, the manure will be removed from the basins and injected into cropland as fertilizer in the fall. The dairy farm needs approximately 7,300 acres of cropland to apply the 85 million gallons of manure generated annually. More than 12,000 acres of cropland are available.

Riverview has applied to the Dept. of Natural Resources for a permit to withdraw up to 120 million gallons per year of groundwater. Long-term monitoring of the source aquifer will be required as a condition of an issued permit.

State agencies use the EAW to help decide whether a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is needed. The EAW covers site location details, nearby resources, and other elements, including wells, soil types, water use, manure management, air and odor emissions, and traffic.

The MPCA now uses GHG emissions inventories in feedlot environmental reviews. The MPCA estimates that about 76,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent produced annually from the dairy. These emissions may be offset, in part, by planting more alfalfa and other cover crops, which sequester GHG.

As required by state rules, the MPCA prepared an EAW on the proposal. The public may submit written comments on the Grace Dairy EAW until 4:30 p.m. on April 29, 2021. A National Pollutant Disposal Elimination System (NPDES) permit for construction and operation of the dairy farm is scheduled to be on public notice concurrently.

The EAW for this project is available on the MPCA website at or by searching for “Environmental Assessment Worksheet.” It’s also available by emailing or calling Jenna Ness at 651-757-2276, or sending written comments to her at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.

A public notice for the NPDES individual operating permit will be posted on the MPCA website. Dana Leibfried, MPCA Marshall, will be accepting comments on the permit either by email or phone at 507-421-7648, or mailed to her at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 504 Fairgrounds Rd., Ste. 200, Marshall, MN 56258.

Comments on the EAW should address the accuracy and completeness of information, potential impacts that are reasonably expected to occur that warrant further investigation, and the need for an EIS.