Speaking of CAFOs, a Grant County neighbor reminded me of a big watershed improvement project conducted in the Little Minnesota River and Big Stone Lake area in northeastern South Dakota. From 2000 to 2007, we spent over $1.3 million dollars from the EPA, USDA, SD GF&P, and other tax-supported entities to reduce phosphorus and sediment loads in that watershed. Among other things, the project installed animal waste management systems, developed grassed waterways and buffer strips, and did some educational outreach to farmers and landowners.
As you can read in the February 2007 project report, these activities achieved significant reductions in pollution and erosion. These gains were achieved through cooperation, not coercion, with local ag producers. These efforts appear to have helped improve Big Stone Lake from hypereutrophic to eutrophic condition.
And then comes Rick Millner with his giant factory feedlots upstream in Veblen. Millner's Veblen operations have been cited by South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources for illegal manure levels. DENR's action was prompted by complaints from citizens in the Big Stone Lake Association, who traced a brown plume of pollution pouring into Big Stone Lake all the way back up the watershed to Millner's CAFO doorstep. Another group, Citizens for Big Stone Lake, are gathering more data to support their call for more action to protect the lake from CAFO pollution (see Steve Berkner, letter to the editor, Ortonville Independent, 2009.12.01). And we saw what Big Stone Lake looked like this summer.
So here we see an example of a private businessman through his illegal actions undoing over a million dollars worth of successful environmental work. We paid for it with our tax dollars. Neighbors in northeast South Dakota made sacrifices and changed how they use their land to promote their general welfare. And one dairy operator apparently craps all over that investment.
Neighbors, taxpayers, I'd be a little irate.
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