August 21st, 2013 News

August 21st, 2013


Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC

Our mission:

The mission of the Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC (SLEC, LLC) is to advocate for responsible environmental management of the land, lakes, waterways and other natural resources of Steuben County.

Our vision:

The vision of SLEC, LLC, is to maintain strong property values, government services, recreational opportunities, tourism, and business investments in our local economy, while protecting and preserving the beautiful natural resources of Steuben County.

Thank you for coming today to learn, from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), about the large, proposed swine CAFO at 600W and 200N. SLEC, LLC, has been researching CFOs and CAFOs and we have a number of concerns but we understand that IDEM might only address those related to water quality. A list of possible questions we complied for today is listed below and continued on the back. You are encouraged to ask your own questions. We request that audience members who wish to speak be brief, calm, and respectful.

SLEC, LLC, has already engaged a number of experts to help verify that our concerns are legitimate and to develop strategies to protect our environment and local economy. Our costs are mounting and we need your support, both financially and otherwise.

We encourage you to check out our website, register so you receive updates, and use the Donate button to make a donation; or return the form below with your check to address shown. All donations are tax-deductible. Whether you can donate $50 or $5,000, you are helping us show that a large number of people support the effort to protect Steuben County’s waterways, while helping to defray the costs of doing so. Thank you in advance for your timely response.

SLEC, LLC, is a subsidiary of Fawn River Restoration and Conservation Charitable Trust ("Fawn River Trust"). Fawn River Trust is a recognized Not-For-Profit 501(c)(3) organization.

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Please indicate the amount enclosed, and make checks payable to Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium, LLC. Donations are tax-deductible and a receipt will be sent. All donations to SLEC are held separate from the parent Trust, subject to independent oversight, and will be used only for the purposes of SLEC, LLC.

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Mail to SLEC, LLC, P O Box 716, Angola, IN 46703

Compilation of Possible Questions for IDEM

-Is it true that IDEM evaluates CFO/CAFO applications without consideration as to how the CAFO might emit obnoxious odors; contribute to declining property values; contribute to declining tax revenues, both from property and decreased tourism; treatment of the animals; or increased road repairs due to truck traffic?

-Michael Aylesworth, IDEM’s Northern Regional Office Director, pointed out in the Steuben County Commissioner’s meeting on Monday, August 19th, that the water table in our county is high and therefore susceptible to contamination. How will IDEM assure residents that contamination will not occur? Does IDEM have the manpower to accomplish this, and what is the likely impact should these good intentions fail?

-If this 4,800 hog CAFO is permitted by IDEM to operate, and the manure spread on fields gets into Pine Canyon Lake, Crooked Lake, the wetlands and the tributaries of Lake Gage during a rain event, what action will IDEM take to require the CAFO to pay all damages necessary to fully restore Pine Canyon Lake, Crooked Lake and Lake Gage? Can you assure the residents of these lakes that it can and will be restored, as well as guarantee the timeframe for restoration?

-Indiana has had numerous discharges of manure, both intentional and unintentional, from CAFO lagoons to tributaries that lead to Indiana’s lakes and rivers in the last decade --- Huntington Reservoir, as well as Fawn River and Pigeon Creek, right here in Steuben County, and Grand Lake St. Mary’s in Ohio, come to mind. There are also studies about the damage done to the Lake Michigan watershed caused by CAFO manure. Did the Muncie Sow project in Eaton, IN exhibit these damages? If so, what were the costs of clean up, how long did it take and what impacts did the local community experience from this CFO?

-Would IDEM explain how proper oversight of a facility that generates up to 2.2 million gallons of liquid manure and wastewater --- that will be applied to lands surrounding pristine wetlands and lakes --- only require one inspection the first year of operation and then not again until the 5th year? Does this fit with IDEM's mission statement?

-The Soil Survey of Steuben County Indiana, produced by USDA in cooperation with Purdue University, states that the predominant soil types in the manure fields surrounding Pine Canyon Lake, various wetlands, and Crooked Lake have the following limitations: "The soil readily absorbs but does not adequately filter the effluent in septic tank absorption fields. The poor filtering capacity may result in the pollution of ground water supplies". Please elaborate on why millions have been spent, and millions more will be spent in the future by the SLRWD, to eliminate human waste effluent by eliminating septic fields and explain how the dumping of 2.2 million gallons annually of this raw untreated waste in the same area is sensible and prudent.

-The Regional Director stated IDEM is in a two-year agreement with the EPA to represent their issues in Indiana. Is this limited to just water-quality issues or does this extend to air quality, such as PM 2.5 issues, as well? If it does, then how is IDEM addressing this issue under the EPA agreement in respect to CAFO permitting? It seems inconsistent that air quality be ignored considering your mission and EPA partnership.

-Do any of you, your superiors, or any elected state official, such as the Governor, Senators or Representatives, live within 3 miles of any of the existing or proposed CAFOs that the State of Indiana continues to encourage to come to Indiana and, if so, how has that impacted their water quality, air quality, property value or enjoyment of their property?

-As experts on the regulation of CAFOs and guardians of human health, please explain what air emissions will result from a 4,800 head hog operation, if they could be harmful to human health, at what levels will they become harmful, and what IDEM will do if unsafe levels are reached?

-The application indicates that ground water levels at the barn site are 10', and that the bottom of each concrete manure pit is 7’, thus a scant 3’ exists between the water table and the pit holding up to 1,146,923 gallons of liquid manure and wastewater. It is a recognized fact that concrete, in this mass, will crack. What will IDEM do to assure that seepage from the pits will be contained to assure that human health and the environment are protected, and what studies have been conducted that indicate the ground water level does not fluctuate upwardly increasing the chance of contamination?

-Have IDEM experts visited the CAFO site and the hilly manure application fields near or next to lakes, streams and wetlands? If so, what were their impressions about the potential for manure run-off into Grassy Lake, Pine Canyon Lake, and Crooked Lake? Shouldn’t larger-than-normal riparian borders be required?

-Research shows that swine CAFO mortality is approximately 10%. If there are two cycles a year, that is 980 dead, and possibly diseased, hogs. Is it true that IDEM requires detailed drawings and specs for the barns but not the dead animal compost facility, and it is passed off to the Board of Agricultural Health? Couldn’t these dead hogs be a source of contamination of surface and ground water which IDEM is responsible for?

-327 IAC 19-1-1(2) charges IDEM with the responsibility to protect human health and the environment from threats to water quality. How will you assure human health and the environment are protected should you are allow the manure from 9,600 hogs annually to be dumped on porous soils that flow downhill as much as 100’ to the adjacent lakes that are used by thousands of people or that is stored in a manure pit that is only 3’ above the ground water aquifer from which most of us draw our drinking water?

-Does IDEM require CAFO operators be bonded, similar to a contractor, to guarantee their compliance with IDEM regulations or to mitigate costs of clean-up in the event of an environmental disaster?

-How many CAFO/CFO permit applications has IDEM processed in the last 5 years and what percentage are approved? And for those denied, what were the reasons?

-The applicant used a CFO application yet this is for 4,800 hogs at a time and, therefore, a CAFO. Are they to use the same application? What is the difference in rules for a CAFO as opposed to a CFO?

-When a CAFO follows IDEM’s rules, such as permitting the spreading of manure on the porous hilly fields next to our lakes and, if manure should flow into our lakes and the underlying aquifers, will IDEM consider the CAFO to be operating within its permit? If not, what action will you take?

-How will manure be transported to application fields and are these methods failure proof?

-What is the oversight process to ensure only lands outlined in the "Manure Land Use Agreement" are used or is it permissible to use any other land after receiving their permit?

-The "Manure Land Use Agreement" is in effect for 5 years and states it can be terminated by either party. What is the process for securing approval to add new lands to apply manure? What happens should additional suitable land not be located or the land found is cost-prohibitive for the operator?

-Will manure and wastewater always be knifed into the ground and not sprayed?

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