Februrary 13th, 2015 News

February 13th, 2015

A revised SB 249 passed and opportunity to strengthen Steuben County ordinances

A revised Indiana Senate Bill SB 249 was passed on Monday (46-3). The modified bill requires the Purdue Extension and the Purdue University College of Agriculture to perform a study to determine the impact of local ordinances on Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). The findings are to be reported back by November.

On March 4th the Steuben County Plan Commission will be reviewing their ordinances. As you may know, the Steuben Lakes Environmental Consortium has been attempting to get the Commission to consider strengthening their ordinances regarding CAFOs. Since Steuben County is the home of 101 lakes, there are many areas that need to be addressed. However, we tried to make the Commission aware of some of these last year, but the members became concerned with the quantity of proposed changes and did nothing. This year we intend to concentrate on three areas that should be addressed.

Aquifer Protection

Since most, if not all, of our lake residents are on wells, we need to guard the aquifers that supply our drinking water. To protect the aquifers from accidental release or construction problems, all barns, lagoons and compost facilities must be located a minimum of 50 feet above any aquifer. This would allow sufficient soil filtration, assuring ground water is not contaminated. The Steuben County Health Department should be allowed at least annual access to ascertain there are no construction problems.

State Waters

Our beautiful lakes must be protected from manure run off. If manure is spread over frozen ground or we have a heavy rain just after application, there is a real possibility of this getting into one of our lakes. Therefore, manure should not be applied to ground within 3,000 feet of any water of the State.


You may have heard that Ohio has strengthened their manure storage requirements after the Grand Lake-St. Mary’s fiasco. Since the changes, the industrial farmers of Ohio have begun exporting their manure to east central Indiana. We do not want this to occur in Steuben County. A manure storage facility should have setbacks of 3,000 feet from all waters of the state. This is defined as any pit, pad, pond, lagoon, tank building or manure containment area.

If you are interested in seeing CAFO ordinances strengthened, mark your calendar for March 4, at 7:00 p.m. and plan to attend. This is the only time the Plan Commission will take public input. The meeting will take place in the Multipurpose Room (bottom level) of the Community Center, 317 South Wayne Street.

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