116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has granted a northeast Iowa cattle feedlot a water use permit, despite concern from neighbors and environmental groups the feedlot will draw more water than stated in its permit renewal request.
The DNR will allow Supreme Beef to withdraw up to 21.9 million gallons of water a year from two wells in the Jordan aquifer to supply the 11,600-head facility near Monona, according to the water use permit effective June 1.
The new permit replaces one Walz Energy got for the site in 2017, back when the feedlot also was supposed to include biodigesters to dispose of manure.
Several people who spoke at an April 25 public hearing and dozens of others who commented in writing said Supreme Beef’s application underestimated how much water would be needed at the facility.
While the permit would allow for 6 gallons of water per cow per day, many experts recommend 10 to 20 gallons per day in the summer.
"The Department has no comment or position on the Applicant’s specific analyses related to animal husbandry, including the estimated water used per head of cattle,“ the permit decision states. ”The Department’s immediate role is to analyze whether the proposed use is a beneficial use and determine if the withdrawal rates requested comply with the law.“
Iowa law requires water drawn from underground resources to have a “beneficial use” for Iowans.
The DNR will require Supreme Beef to use meters to measure monthly water use from each source, keep monthly records and turn them into the DNR once a year, the permit states.
The feedlot has met ongoing opposition from environmental groups and some neighbors for reasons that include its proximity to Bloody Run, a treasured trout stream and an Outstanding Iowa Water.
The Iowa chapters of the Sierra Club and Trout Unlimited are suing the Iowa DNR over the April 2021 approval of Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan. They say manure from the feedlot, built in porous karst terrain, could easily pollute Bloody Run and nearby private wells, many of which already have high levels of nitrate, linked to blue baby syndrome and some cancers.
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