Illinois EPA denies water permit to Nora mega-dairy

Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Sept. 2, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) denied the Traditions mega-dairy’s Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification application, which was originally submitted by the Nora facility July 25, 2008.

The 401 certification was required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after the Corps determined the mega-dairy was planning to build one of its two 14-acre manure ponds atop a tributary at the headwaters of the Apple River.

The Corps will not allow the mega-dairy to construct the manure pond without the state’s certification of the application. The facility cannot receive an operating license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) without the proposed manure pond.

If the mega-dairy ever wants to become operational, it will either have to reapply for the 401 permit certification with the IEPA, or submit a new set of revised plans with the IDOA for a much smaller facility that doesn’t need both 14-acre manure ponds.

The primary reasons the IEPA denied the application were:

• Inadequate rationale for the need to lower water quality of the receiving stream, which would occur as the result of the placement of the fill material;

• Inadequate explanation as to why impact to the South Fork of the Apple River cannot be avoided; and

• Failure to demonstrate that the proposed activity would not result in water pollution, based on the geology and hydrology of the site.

The IEPA received almost 100 letters asking them to reject the permit certification during the public comment period on the application. Among the environmental groups that submitted letters opposing the facility were HOMES, Illinois Citizens for Clean Air and Water (ICCAW), Prairie Rivers Network, Trout Unlimited and Sierra Club.

This smart decision by the IEPA has been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait,” said Stacy James of Prairie Rivers Network. “We are relieved that Bos’ manure pond will not become the headwater of a tributary of the Apple River.”

This is just the latest setback for the California millionaire investor who had planned to bring in 11,000 cows, endangering the pristine Apple River Canyon State Park and jeopardizing dozens of family-owned farms.

This past February, the U.S. Department of Justice alerted the State of Illinois that they were considering filing an enforcement action against the facility because of the mega-dairy’s failure to comply with other provisions of the Clean Water Act, in accordance with the USEPA’s requests. Then, in April, the Illinois attorney general filed a quarter-of-a-million-dollar lawsuit against the mega-dairy for an illegal discharge of silage leachate that occurred in October 2010.

For more about HOMES, visit

HOMES (Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards) is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, pro-agriculture group of farmers and citizens dedicated to protecting family farms, rural communities, human health, and the environment by promoting sustainable agriculture and conserving natural resources.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue

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