IDEM Panel Fields Questions About Latest CAFO Permit

BY TERESA SMITH, Times-Union Staff Writer

About 100 people attended the concentrated animal feeding operation public hearing Wednesday, mostly in support of the permit filed by James R. Wolf.

A panel of Indiana Department of Environmental Management administrators, inspectors and engineers answered written questions in the Shrine Building on the fairgrounds.

Maps detailed the number and location of the county’s CAFOs and confined feeding operations. Kosciusko County has 31 CAFOs and 46 CFOs, a total of 77. Eighty percent of the state’s livestock is produced by 20 percent of the states’ CAFOs.

Kosciusko County is the state’s fifth largest producer of livestock. The audience learned the Wolf permit, if approved, will be the 16th largest hog CAFO in the state.

CAFO regulations are more stringent than CFO regulations, said Mike Aylesworth, IDEM’s northern region supervisor. He said IDEM is charged with protecting the state’s surface and ground water.

The Wolf proposal is near the corner of CRs 700W and 400N. The Easterday Ditch runs north of the property and swings west where it is joined by the Miller Ditch. The waterway then goes south, draining into the north side of Hoffman Lake, which is about a mile away.

Several questions were asked about water quality in Hoffman Lake. IDEM environmental manager Mike Dunn said other agencies test the water, and he would make sure the people with questions about water quality got their answers from the right office.

Inspections are held during the construction phase of a CAFO. Two 80-feet by 400-feet buildings are proposed at the Wolf site.

Plans call for concrete holding pits large enough to hold 330 days’ worth of hog manure, urine and water runoff produced by 8,000 pigs weighing 280 pounds.

The planned pit size is nearly double the 180-days accumulation required by law.

One planned inspection is held during the CAFO’s first six months and a second, unplanned, inspection in the second six months of operation.

Complaints are always addressed.

IDEM compliance inspector Randy Jones discussed the agency’s role in the permit process. “We make our decisions on what an operator tells us. We can’t verify everything. We can’t go into the buildings. We inspect the manure and soil test records, and we have to assume they’re being honest with us.”

Jones said spills are to be reported within two hours of discovery and those spills are to be stopped, contained and collected.

Manure types must be matched with soil types for land application. The operator must track where the discharge goes and when it is applied.

The state follows federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. Currently, there are no regulations regarding noise and odor. The EPA is in the middle of a two-year study regarding CAFO odor. Results of the study and possible regulations won’t be law for another two years, Jones said.

Aylesworth said it is more of a challenge to keep human waste out of the water.

“We’re requiring a lot of cities to separate their sewer and storm drains. Forty percent of the nations’ combined sewer-stormwater pollution occurs in Indiana,” Aylesworth said. “The wastewater standards for discharge into water is zero percent. We want our water to be swimmable, fishable and drinkable as soon as possible.”

The IDEM panel urged people with more questions to write the agency for answers. Staffers are available by calling 317-232-4473.

Copies of the CFO and CAFO rules are on the Net at www.in.gov/idem/land/cfo/index.html

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