The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has notified the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources of the agency’s plans to review a water quality protection permit for a large-scale hog farm planned near Lake Superior.
Iowa-based Reicks View Farms submitted an application to the state for a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit this winter. Reicks subsidiary Badgerwood, LLC is proposing to build a large-scale farm of 26,350 hogs in the town of Eileen in Bayfield County.
In a statement provided by EPA spokesman Pete Cassell, the agency writes, “Due to the size and location of the proposed Badgerwood facility as well as the concerns raised by Wisconsin tribes, EPA plans to review the draft (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit for this project.”
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Wisconsin is among 45 other states that administer such permits under the authorization of the EPA. The agency oversees the states, and around 10 to 20 permits are reviewed each year in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Projects that are permitted must comply with EPA regulations and the Clean Water Act.
Bad River Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins said he’s worried about what the number of animals and millions of gallons of manure may mean for the tribe’s nearby coastal wetlands, the Kakagon Sloughs, as well as Chequamegon Bay.
“Chequamegon Bay is actually a part of Lake Superior. It is a flat shallow bay. The propensity for Chequamegon Bay to be impacted by nutrient loading and some of the undesirable impacts of CAFOs is right there and very, very real,” said Wiggins.
The Wisconsin DNR’s Northern Water Leader Nancy Larson said the state is still collecting information because Reicks submitted an incomplete application. She said the company still has to provide a report of wetlands mapped on the site.
“We’re reviewing the nutrient management plan,” said Larson. “A review of the plans and specs is not complete either.”
The EPA reviews around 30 water quality protection permits out of roughly 200 each year, according to the Wisconsin DNR. Construction of the Bayfield County hog farm was slated for June, but Larson said it’s difficult to know when Reicks would receive a permit for the Badgerwood facility.
A spokesman for Reicks View Farms did not immediately return calls for comment.
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