Public hearing Oct. 14 on environmental impact of Richfield CAFO

Editor’s note: The following is from Bob Clarke of Friends of the Central Sands in Coloma, Wis. Among other efforts, the group has been fighting to preserve waterways by fighting against a proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Richfield, Wis. Coloma is a village in Waushara County in central Wisconsin.

By Bob Clarke
Friends of the Central Sands

Public hearing — Tuesday Oct. 14

Here we go again!

As a reminder, there is a public hearing concerning the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Richfield CAFO. I know this is a bit confusing given our recent court victory. While we did win the bigger fight over the permitting of the high-capacity well (among other important points), thereby capping the amount of water that can be used, the CAFO can be built, but with limited access to water and other restrictions. This new EIS is the result of the concerns we raised resulting in a December 2013 court decision in our favor specifically directing the department to consider the environmental effects of the two proposed Richfield Dairy high-capacity wells, in conjunction with other high-capacity wells in the region. This EIS is being performed to address flaws found by the court of appeals in the cumulative impacts assessment from November 2011. The proposed EIS and DNR information can be seen here. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/AgBusiness/CAFO/RichfieldDairy.html

There are some flaws and issues with the EIS that we want to address with the DNR. For example, it doesn’t reflect any new info on the WPDES permit (i.e. it cut and pastes from the last Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2011, even though much has happened in the last three years). The cumulative impact analysis for the wells still doesn’t say much about the magnitude of the impacts and what they mean for resources over time. It relies on testimony that was rejected in the contested case hearing (i.e. that the calcareous fen located at the headwaters of Chaffee Creek will just move downslope as a result of losing water inputs from the top). The alternatives analysis is also lacking. Also note that the EIS is presuming that the wells will be pumping at 72.5 MGPY, not the new level of 52.5 MGPY, as was just determined in our recent court victory. On the other hand, it appears as though the DNR has learned from some things and gotten them right because of our hearing, like assessing impacts in low-flow conditions for streams and not just average flow.

Given that many of the area’s residents are part-time and have closed up for the season, it is even more important that you attend, if at all possible.

When and where:

Public hearing date, time and location: Tuesday, Oct. 14, 7 p.m.

Adams County Community Center

569 N. Cedar St.

Adams, WI 53910

Written comments can be submitted on the draft EIS:

Russ Anderson, DNR

3911 Fish Hatchery Road

Fitchburg, WI 53719

Written comments must be received by Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support in this ongoing battle!

Posted Oct. 13, 2014

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