Kinnard Farms Expansion Upheld with Added Monitoring

Posted in: Ground Water News, US Water News, Water Contamination, Water dispute
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(Photo credit: Jim Matthews/Gannett Wisconsin Media)

Article courtesy of Alyssa Bloechl, Kewaunee County Star-News | October 31, 2014 | GreenBayPressGazette | Shared as educational material

In a decision two years in the making, an administrative law judge ruled Wednesday that with additional water monitoring, Kinnard Farms may continue with a proposed expansion.

Jeffrey Boldt ordered revisions to the farm’s Water Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, which accommodated expansion of Kinnard’s concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).

Kinnard Farms, located in the town of Lincoln, filed for reissuance of its WPDES in March 2012 and proposed construction of a new facility near Spruce Road and Tamarack Drive. A group of nearby residents, represented by Midwest Environmental Advocates, subsequently petitioned to contest renewal due to concerns of groundwater contamination from manure.

Both sides reacted positively to the ruling from Boldt, a Wisconsin State Division of Hearings and Appeals administrative law judge.

“As a third-generation family farming operation with strong roots and deep ties to the local community and Kewaunee County, Kinnard Farms is pleased that the judge’s decision allows it to continue moving forward with its expansion and modernization efforts,” farm owner Lee Kinnard said in a statement. “Kinnard Farms is proud to be a leader in adopting innovative and environmentally sustainable farming practices that allow us to remain competitive in an increasingly global dairy market.”

Sarah Williams, a Midwest Environmental Advocates staff attorney who worked with citizens in the permit challenge, said rural Kewaunee County CAFOs produce more manure waste than can safely be spread on area fields.

“Nitrates and bacteria from untreated animal waste are polluting local drinking water wells,” Williams said in a statement. “During the permit challenge proceedings, the overwhelming and moving testimony from Petitioners and local residents about their concerns for their health and their water was reflected in … Boldt’s decision.”

Boldt ordered Kinnard Farms to begin groundwater monitoring for pollutants at the building site, because it has been labeled as susceptible to groundwater contamination. The monitoring must include no less than six monitoring wells, including two that must monitor off-site landspreading.

In addition, Boldt ordered the DNR to modify the permit to Kinnard Farms to limit production area discharge of manure or wastewater pollutants to navigable waters.

“Production area discharges to water of the state authorized under this permit shall comply with water quality standards, groundwater standards and may not impair wetland functional values,” the ruling said.

Kinnard Farms was also ordered to modify their permit to reflect a maximum number of animal units at the facility in addition to current storage requirements.

The DNR approved the permit on Nov. 30, 2012, conditionally approving the expansion allowing Kinnard to add 6,200 head of cattle. Boldt presided at a four-day administrative hearing starting Feb. 11 and issued his decision after reviewing written closing arguments.

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