116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two Iowa environmental groups have asked the state’s Environmental Protection Commission to overturn a decision by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to approve an 11,600-head cattle feeding operation near Monona.
The 12-page petition, sent to the commission Friday, says the Supreme Beef feedlot — which will be one of the largest feeding operations in the state — will produce far more manure than is stated in its nutrient management plan approved by the DNR April 2.
Because the feedlot is on porous terrain in the watershed of an important trout stream, the petition states, there is high risk of manure running into the water and potentially killing fish and destroying their habitat.
“It is likely that Supreme Beef’s storage, handling and application of manure will cause degradation to Bloody Run Creek, an Outstanding Iowa Water,” the petition states.
Steve Veysey, an Ames water quality advocate collaborating with the Sierra Club and the Iowa Environmental Council, found several flaws overlooked in the DNR review of Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan, the petition states.
First, Twin Lakes Consulting, the Rockwell City firm that did Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan, understated the amount of manure from 11,600 finishing cattle, instead using comparison numbers from a cattle processing facility, where cows only live a short time before they are slaughtered, the petition states. These comparisons led to underestimating the amount of nitrate and phosphorus — potentially harmful nutrients — in manure from the feedlot.
“More than 1.3 million pounds of N and P per year remain unaccounted for in this NMP,” the petition states.
The feedlot’s 30-foot deep, plastic-lined manure lagoon isn’t the right type for the facility, the petition states, which may cause owners to land apply manure more frequently than it states in the plan.
Supreme Beef’s nutrient management plan calls for putting manure on 45 fields around the Supreme Beef feedlot, four of which are in the Bloody Run watershed, the petition states. Because of the risks of manure running into the trout stream, the petitioners said the DNR should have done an antidegradation review as part of its consideration of the project.
Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 61 says “facility plans for new or expanded construction permits, except for construction permits issued for non-discharging facilities, shall undergo an antidegradation review.” But because Supreme Beef says it won’t discharge into Iowa’s waters, the facility was not required to apply for a federal discharge permit.
Of the manure fields listed in the plan, most are on highly-erodible land, which means the plan must include several types of erosion in the calculations. The petition says the Supreme Beef plan doesn’t include gully erosion.
The Environmental Protection Commission is a nine-member board appointed by the governor that establishes policy and adopts rules implementing Iowa’s environmental protection laws. The group’s next scheduled meeting is May 18. DNR staff confirmed the agency had received the petition and forwarded it to the EPC’s legal counsel.
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