MPCA releases environmental review, draft permit for proposed 10,500-head dairy feedlot in Norman County

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today released its draft permit and an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) for Riverview LLP’s proposed Waukon Dairy, a 10,500-head dairy feedlot located about five miles southeast of Gary in Norman County. The Waukon Dairy environmental assessment identified several nearby sensitive resources — including a waterfowl production area, streams with existing water quality issues, a vulnerable forest, and threatened plant and animal species — that could be affected by spreading manure on farm field and steps the facility will take to minimize or avoid those impacts.

The cows will be housed in a cross-ventilated, total confinement barn. Liquid manure and wastewater will be stored in five earthen basins with impermeable covers with a total capacity of 116 million gallons. In the fall after harvest, liquid manure will be transferred to area farmers for application on up to 12,952 acres of land in Waukon, Fossum, Wild Rice, and Strand townships in Norman County.

In addition to the barn and liquid manure storage basins, the project will also include:

  • A 150-by-240-foot milking parlor building
  • Two on-site apartment buildings for employees. Each building will have four six-bedroom units. The apartments will have a private well for potable water and private septic systems.
  • Permanent stormwater runoff basins to collect and treat runoff from 110 acres of new impervious surface at the site.

Riverview LLP has received a water appropriation permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to extract 120 million gallons per year from three production wells.

State agencies use the EAW to help decide whether a more extensive environmental impact statement is needed. The EAW describes the project’s potential effects on nearby land uses, geography, bodies of water or groundwater, and wildlife and habitat. It also details air and vehicle emissions, dust, traffic, noise, and odors that the project might produce.

As part of the EAW, the MPCA estimated that total GHG emissions from the feedlot would equal approximately 76,100 tons of carbon dioxide per year. The agency made the estimate using a calculator developed by the U.S. EPA, which takes into account emissions from animal digestion (methane), manure storage (methane and nitrous oxide), and manure land application (nitrous oxide) and then converts the tons per source to tons of carbon dioxide for ease of reporting and comparing.

In January 2020, the MPCA determined that it will estimate GHG emissions for all large feedlot projects that require environmental review. The MPCA uses GHG emissions inventories in other environmental review, including for energy and ethanol projects. Now, the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) is also studying how state and local governments can effectively use environmental review to consider potential climate impacts.

The Riverview LLP environmental assessment worksheet and draft permit are available on the MPCA web site. Request copies of the documents from or send written comments by 4:30 pm. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 to:

  • Environmental assessment worksheet — Charles Peterson (651-757-2856) MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194
  • Feedlot permit — Molly Costin (218-846-8114) MPCA, 714 Lake Ave., Ste. 220, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501

For more information on greenhouse gas emissions in feedlot environment review, visit the MPCA web site.