MPCA seeks comments from public on proposed hog feedlot in Blue Earth County

Contact: Cathy Rofshus, 507-206-2608

Rochester, Minn. -- Troy Phillips of rural Janesville is proposing to build a hog feedlot southeast of Mankato. The feedlot would consist of two total-confinement barns, each with 2,400 hogs. Manure would be stored in reinforced concrete pits under each barn.

As required by state rules, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) completed an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) on the proposed feedlot. The public may comment on the proposed feedlot until 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 17.

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

Manure management is one concern with feedlots. According to the EAW, the feedlot would generate 1.68 million gallons of manure per year. The total manure storage capacity would be 1.85 million gallons, with the extra storage designed to prevent overflow problems. In the fall, the manure would be pumped to tankers for application to cropland as fertilizer.

This new feedlot would be in section 29 of McPherson Township, south of St. Clair. This area is zoned for agriculture. Eleven homes are within one mile of the proposed feedlot and manure application sites. Rice Lake is about one mile west of the proposed feedlot. This shallow lake covers 438 acres and provides hunting and wildlife viewing, along with a wildlife management area on the west side of the lake. The public well for St. Clair is 2.1 miles north of the nearest proposed manure application site.

State rules prohibit manure application within so many feet of homes, churches, cities, streams, open tiles, and wells. In this case, Blue Earth County rules will supersede MPCA regulations because the local rules are more restrictive.

Air quality is another concern with feedlots. Based on a computer simulation, the new feedlot would meet state air quality standards and would not significantly increase odors. This simulation took into account the existing five feedlots near the proposed site.

The worksheet for this project is available by searching for “MPCA environmental worksheet” on the Internet. It’s also available by calling Beth Tegdesch at 651-757-2100.

Comments, which must be in writing, should go to Charles Peterson of the MPCA’s environmental review unit at charles.peterson@state.mn.us or mailed to him at MPCA, 520 Lafayette Road N., Saint Paul, MN 55155-4194.

The proposed feedlot requires federal, state and county permits. The MPCA will issue coverage under the National Pollution Disposal Elimination System and State Disposal System (NPDES/SDS) permit. The issuance of the NPDES/SDS permit also requires a public notice. This is available by going to the MPCA Public Notices webpage and then scrolling down to the Aug. 18 list. Comments on the permit, which must be in writing, should be submitted to Sara Isebrand of the MPCA feedlot staff at sara.isebrand@state.mn.us or mailed to her at MPCA, 12 Civic Center Drive, Suite 2165, Mankato, MN 56001.

All comments must be received by 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 17.

The proposed feedlot would also need a water appropriation permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources because it would use 5.26 million gallons of water from an on-site well annually.

The feedlot would be in the Le Sueur River watershed, meaning runoff ultimately drains to the Le Sueur River, a tributary to the Blue Earth River, and then to the Minnesota River.