Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Scopig Plan (Copied from documents aviallable to the Public
BAD RIVER BAND OF LAKE SUPERIOR TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS
CHIEF BLACKBIRD CENTER
Environmental Review Supervisor DNR Service Center
810 W. Maple Street
Spooner, WI 54801
P.O. Box 39 ● Odanah, Wisconsin 54861
September 30, 2015
Subject: EIS Scoping Comments on the Badgerwood LLC, CAFO
Dear Mr. Clark,
This letter from the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Natural Resources Department (Bad River NRD) provides comments to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) regarding the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the WDNR is preparing for the proposed Badgerwood project in the Town of Eileen in Bayfield County, Wisconsin.
Please note that these comments have been submitted on behalf of the Natural Resources Department of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and do not represent a form of government-to-government consultation. For each item, we will offer identification of the issue to be examined, supporting documentation, and recommendations. Contact information is provided at the conclusion should items exist for which you require further explanation or discussion.
Comment on the Permitting Process
We are providing our scoping issues and questions to the best of our ability; however, we realize we are commenting on an incomplete application. According to the WDNR web site, the application is not considered complete as of September 15, 2015, since a wetland delineation has not been completed. The last documentation indicating Badgerwood LLC had addressed issues raised by WDNR in the application was posted on the WDNR web site on April 30, 2015.
This Proposed CAFO Conflicts with Existing Plans and Initiatives
Issue to be Examined: An EIS must discuss and reconcile conflicts between the proposed action and any existing policies or plans for the area potentially impacted.
Supporting Documentation: According to federal regulations [40 CFR 1502.16 (c)], a proposed action’s EIS must include a discussion of “possible conflicts between the proposed action and the objectives of federal, regional, state, and local land use plans, policies and controls for the area concerned.” It is further stated in 40 CFR 1506.2 (d) that “to better integrate environmental impact statements into state or local planning processes, statements shall discuss any inconsistency of a proposed action with any approved state or local plan and laws (whether or not federally sanctioned). Where an inconsistency exists, the statement should describe the extent to which the agency would reconcile its proposed action with the plan or law.” Wisconsin statute 1.11(2)(c) requires that all Wisconsin agencies considering environmental impacts follow these federal guidelines, as mandated under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The proposed Badgerwood project has the potential to increase agricultural runoff and inputs (e.g., nutrients) to the Fish Creek and White River watersheds and ultimately Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay. As a result, the proposed Badgerwood CAFO may be in conflict with numerous local, state, federal, and binational plans and initiatives due to likely negative impacts on water quality, air quality, habitat, fish, wildlife, and other aspects of the natural and human environment. The proposed CAFO conflicts with the following plans and policies, but is not limited to only these 16 examples:
1. The Fish Creek Watershed Restoration and Management Plan was completed in 2011 by the Ashland County Land and Water Conservation Department. (http://www.northland.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/FishCreekManagementPlan.pdf). The CAFO itself and the majority of the fields used for manure spreading are located within the Fish Creek watershed. Watershed objectives set forth in this Plan include reducing agricultural runoff from the clay plain uplands to watershed drainages and waterways.
2. In 2013, the Wisconsin DNR published the White River Property Group Master Plan (DNR PUB-LF-072, http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/lf/LF0072.pdf). The Badgerwood project proposes manure spreading on fields in the White River watershed. Goals of the Plan include protecting the outstanding game fisheries, preserving the cold riverine habitat, promoting quality habitat, and maintaining the existing Outstanding/Exceptional Resource Waterway (ORW/ERW) designations in the area. The Plan recognizes that excessive nutrient inputs “degrade in-stream habitats and diminish efforts to sustain a high quality, self-sustaining trout fishery”.
3. Anti-degradation is a guiding principle of the 2012 Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (http://binational.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/1094_Canada-USA- GLWQA-_e.pdf), with the goal of maintaining or improving water quality in the waters of the Great Lakes. A general objective of the Agreement is that the Great Lakes “be free from nutrients that directly or indirectly enter the water as a result of human activity, in amounts that promote the growth of algae and cyanobacteria that interfere with aquatic ecosystem health or human use of the ecosystem.” The specific Lake Ecosystem Objective for Lake Superior calls for “maintaining an oligotrohic state, relative algal biomass, and algal species consistent with healthy aquatic ecosystems.” Nutrient inputs to Chequamegon Bay as a result of the proposed CAFO have the potential to result in algae blooms and dead zones and alter the current oligotrophic state of these waters.
4. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was launched in 2010 to protect and restore the Great Lakes. The 2014 Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Action Plan II (http://www.greatlakesrestoration.us/actionplan/pdfs/glri-action-plan-2.pdf) includes “reducing runoff that contributes to algal blooms” as one of its four major focus areas in order to reduce nonpoint source pollution impacts on the nearshore health of the Great Lakes.
5. The 2008 Lake Superior Lakewide Management Plan (http://epa.gov/greatlakes/lamp/ls_2008/ls_2008.pdf) contains ecosystem goals related to climate change and nutrients that may be in conflict with potential methane releases and nutrient runoff from the proposed Badgerwood CAFO. Specifically, the Plan calls for “making Lake Superior a net carbon reduction area that reduces greenhouse gas emissions” and “protecting oligotrophic conditions in nearshore and offshore waters and restoring and protecting water quality in embayments and tributaries.”
6. The 2015 Lake Superior Biodiversity Conservation Strategy (http://www.natureconservancy.ca/assets/documents/on/A-Biodiversity-Conservation- Strategy-for-Lake-Superior.pdf) recognizes that nutrient runoff is a threat to existing high-quality habitats. The Strategy calls for “protecting oligotrophic conditions (i.e. high in oxygen, low in nutrients) in nearshore and offshore waters, and restoring and protecting water quality in embayments and tributaries.”
7. The Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan Update 2010 (http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/129) identified the natural environment as one of the county’s key strengths and concerns about water quality as one of the largest threats to the county. Water quality protection and the preservation of natural resources (including surface and groundwater) are named as priorities for the county. According to the county’s vision statement, “Natural resources will be protected and serve as an environmental, recreational, and economic asset to the county. Development will be compatible with the natural environment to ensure these resources are protected for future generations.” A goal is set forth in the Plan to “conserve, protect, manage, and enhance the county’s natural resources, including but not limited to lakes, rivers/streams, wetlands, groundwater, forestlands, and other wildlife habitats in order to provide the highest quality of life for citizens and visitors.” The Plan states that the county will consider the preservation of natural resources in the decision making process for all future planning and development decisions with the goal of ensuring that all land use and development is “compatible and harmonious with the natural environment.”
8. In February 2015, the Bayfield County Board approved a 12-month moratorium on CAFOs, with the option to extend the moratorium for an additional six-months if needed to assess the potential impacts of allowing a CAFO in the region. Other local counties have similar concerns. Iron County passed a similar moratorium in March 2015 and Ashland County is exploring a two-year moratorium on CAFOs.
9. The Town of Eileen, WI Comprehensive Plan (2010) (http://www.townofeileen.com/images/EileenPlanSummary.pdf) does not include any vision of increased agriculture for the town. In fact, the objectives of the town are inconsistent with the development of a large-scale swine facility. The plan states the town will ensure that the town’s rivers and streams are protected; promote a high level of environmental quality of lands, water, and wildlife habitat; discourage land use practices that have a detrimental effect on the land, soil, or air quality of the town; and maintain safe, quality drinking water.
10. The first of the five goals laid out in the Bayfield County Land and Water Resource
Management Plan 2010-2020 (http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/1058) is to “protect and enhance surface water, wetlands, and groundwater to maintain water quality, ecologic function, and recreation and aesthetic values.” Specifically, the plan calls for reducing and mitigating surface and groundwater impacts from agricultural land use activities.
11. The Chequamegon Bay Area Partnership’s Strategic Priorities (2013, http://www.northland.edu/assets/files/SOEI/CBAP.Strategic.Priorities.2013.Final.pdf) identifies reducing pathogen (bacteria) and nutrient levels in the Bay area as a strategic priority. The majority of nutrient and bacteria inputs into the environment from the Badgerwood project would eventually enter the Bay primarily via Fish Creek.
12. The WDNR’s 2005 Strategy for Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) (http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/ER/ER0641.pdf) calls for the “protection of unique Great Lakes shoreline environments, such as the vast Bad River-Kakagon Sloughs and the smaller but biologically rich estuaries at Fish Creek...” The Fish Creek watershed is home to 11 SGCN.
13. The Fish Creek watershed contains 8.5 miles of perennial Outstanding or Exceptional Resource Waters (ORW/ERW, Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 102). In addition, the White River is designated as a state ERW. Therefore these waters are subject to Wisconsin’s “antidegradation” policy (Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 207), which is designed to prevent unnecessary lowering of water quality in waters of significant ecological significance. Any increased discharges to these waters as a result of the proposed Badgerwood project could be in conflict with this policy.
14. The guiding principle of the Bad River Tribe’s Integrated Resource Management Plan (2001) is based on the management of all natural resources using an ecosystem approach to maintain or improve the water quality of all surface and groundwater resources within the Reservation and within the larger watersheds of which the Reservation is a part. The Plan, recognizing their importance to the community for subsistence resources (e.g., fish, wild rice) as well as cultural and spiritual value, designates the Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs complex as a Conservation Area. Inputs and runoff from the proposed Badgerwood project have the potential to reach these critical areas once they enter Chequamegon Bay from Fish Creek or from the White River, a major tributary to the Bad River.
15. The Red Cliff Integrated Resource Management Plan (http://redcliff- nsn.gov/Planning/RC_IRMP.pdf) also stresses the importance of maintaining water resources, including Lake Superior, in “excellent condition.” The plan recognizes the importance of the tribe’s coastal wetlands and states, “are unique and beautiful places that are crucial to the ecosystem of the reservation and the region. The restoration, management, and protection of wetlands are crucial components in maintaining a healthy environment for Red Cliff.”
16. The Apostle Islands National Lake Shore General and Wilderness Management Plan’s (2011, http://www.nps.gov/apis/upload/APIS-GMP-short-version.pdf) strategies for natural resource management incorporate an ecosystem approach that reaches beyond the boundaries of the park. The Plan recognizes that “activities that occur outside the park affect, sometimes profoundly, the Park Service’s ability to protect natural resources inside the park.” The Plan includes a water quality goal that “all human sources of water pollution, both within and outside the park, that are adversely affecting the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are eliminated, mitigated, or minimized.”
Recommendation: The EIS should evaluate the impacts of the proposed Badgerwood project relative to the objectives of these and any other plans or initiatives in the project area, and identify and reconcile any conflicts between the project and the existing plans. All of these plans are based on the common themes of protecting and improving the local environment and assuring that any development or land use will not have a detrimental effect on natural resources.
Treaty Resources and Obligations
Issue to be Examined: The EIS should include an evaluation of the potential impacts of the proposed Badgerwood project on the treaty reserved resources within the proposed project’s watershed and other impacted areas.
Supporting Documentation: The proposed project lies within the 1842 ceded territory, which includes portions of Lake Superior and its watershed (see the map below). This territory was ceded by the member Tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission to the United States in the Treaty of 1842 (7 Stat. 591), in which they also reserved their hunting, fishing, and gathering rights to guarantee they could continue their way of life (or “lifeway”) in a manner that meets their subsistence, economic, cultural, medicinal, and spiritual needs. These rights necessarily include co-management authority over the resources to ensure a healthy, sustainable resource base to support their hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. Reserved by treaty, these rights have been repeatedly affirmed by federal courts.
Treaties are the supreme law of the land, and the affirmation of the Tribes’ roles as co-managers within the ceded territories places an added onus on the State to undertake true government-to- government consultations with potentially affected Tribes so that it can understand and properly account for the proposed project’s potential impacts on their rights and their members’ ability to harvest clean and healthy natural resources from the ceded territories. An evaluation of these impacts must then be included in the EIS to show that the potential impacts on the treaty resources have been properly considered.
The proposed project has the potential to significantly impact multiple Lake Superior tributary watersheds (i.e., Fish Creek and White River) in which the Tribes hold treaty rights, as well as the potential to impact Lake Superior. GLIFWC member Tribes understand that clean water is fundamental to life. They regard it as “the first medicine” and as the blood of their mother, the earth. GLIFWC member Tribes also believe that actions affecting natural resources must be judged on how well they will protect seven generations hence and seek to ensure that principles of ecosystem management and biological diversity recognize and protect the fundamental interdependence of all parts of the environment.
Recommendation: The EIS should account for the impacts of the proposed project on the treaty rights of GLIFWC’s member Tribes.
RCRA and Solid Waste
Issue to be Examined: Badgerwood may spread nutrients on fields above levels that can be utilized by crops.
Supporting Documentation: Fields identified by Badgerwood in their nutrient management plan (NMP) already have excess phosphorous (Badgerwood NMP dated April 30, 2015). Surface-water runoff from rainstorms or excess irrigation is the primary way that phosphorus or soil containing phosphorus is transported to streams in most watersheds. There is a growing awareness that long-term over-application of manure and chemical fertilizer contributes to phosphorus movement into the groundwater system, resulting in a significant groundwater source of phosphorus to streams and lakes, as well as potential contamination of the groundwater resources.. USGS, Phosphorus and Groundwater: Establishing Links Between Agricultural Use and Transport to Streams, (http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2012/3004/) Over-application or improper application can lead to transport of nutrients into the groundwater through leaching or overland flow. Saskatchewan Soil Conservation Association, Hog Manure BMP’s, (http://www.soilcc.ca/ggmp_fact_sheets/pdf/Hog%20Manure.pdf)
Over application of nutrients on fields may present an imminent and substantial endangerment to health and the environment and violate the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for illegal disposal of a solid waste. See, Community Association for the Restoration for the Environment vs. Cow Palace, Pg 105, l9 (http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/320-- order-granting-in-part-msj-11415_78926.pdf)
That court decision has concluded that manure is subject to RCRA solid waste regulations when it can’t be utilized in the environment. The court also finds the dairy violated RCRA’s substantial and imminent endangerment and open dumping provisions and that all Defendants are responsible parties under RCRA. Id.
RCRA defines “open dump” as “any facility or site where solid waste is disposed of by discharge, deposit, injection, dumping, spilling, leaking, or placing of any solid waste or hazardous waste into or on any land or water so that such solid waste or any constituent thereof may enter the environment or be emitted into the air or discharged into any waters, including ground waters.” 42 U.S. Code § 6903(3) (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/6903). Disposal of RCRA waste not in a sanitary landfill but upon agricultural lands is defined as an “open dump” (https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/6945). RCRA outlaws the disposal of solid waste in this manner. 42 U.S. Code. § 6945(a).
NR 243.14(5), Wisconsin Admin Code, allows for soil phosphorus levels to reach 200 ppm while Wisconsin NRCS Conservation Practice Standard 590 (http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/WI/590.pdf) states that 30-50 ppm soil phosphorous meets the most demanding crop needs. Excess phosphorus is considered illegal disposal under RCRA.
Excess phosphorous applied to fields that is not utilized by the crops will either runoff into waterways or build up to excessive levels in the soil until it eventually reaches the groundwater. Contaminated groundwater is a threat to local residents utilizing wells for drinking water and is likely to enter Lake Superior, an exceptional environmental resource and the source of drinking water for the City of Ashland.
There is no requirement in NR 243, Wisconsin Admin Code for monitoring soil for nitrates. It is common to find in Wisconsin’s agricultural areas exceedances of Wisconsin’s groundwater standards.
The primary constituents of animal waste that may cause water quality problems include pathogenic organisms, nitrate, ammonia, phosphorous, salts, heavy metals, and organic solids. Nitrate (N03) is the most common ground water pollutant from fields that receive excessive rates of manure. Ground water monitoring has shown that N03 contamination can be a problem in the vicinity of confined livestock feeding operations. Runoff from feedlots or manured fields can also degrade the quality of surface water. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, Best Management Practices for Manure Utilization, 1999, Pg. 1. (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/crops/568A.pdf)
Recommendations: Badgerwood fields are designated as “Excessively High” in soil test phosphorus within the soil test report “interpretation” of the Badgerwood Nutrient Management Plan (dated April 30, 2015). The EIS should address whether these fields cannot have more manure applied to them or already have excess phosphorous that cannot be utilized by crops in a growing season. A review and determination needs to be made if Wisconsin’s laws for nutrient management allow for excessive nutrient “open dumping” that will contribute to groundwater and surface water contamination at and around the Badgerwood facility and fields.
Wisconsin does not require any logs or licensed haulers that record manure movement. WDNR must identify how it will ensure that records will be maintained of what is actually is being applied to fields and why records of emergency applications are not currently maintained.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also needs to address why they do not regulate nitrates in their nutrient management regulation. We request a soil nitrate standard to be set to prevent groundwater contamination. See for example EPA Administrative Order of Consent, Yakima Valley Dairies, pg11 5(d), that set a nitrate standard of 45 ppm (http://www3.epa.gov/region10/pdf/sites/yakimagw/consent_order_yakima_valley_dairies_marc h2013.pdf).
Water Quality: Compliance with Bad River Tribe’s Water Quality Standards
Issue to be Examined: The Bad River Tribe’s water quality standards (WQS) must be met for waters within the exterior boundaries of the Bad River Reservation. These WQS must be met for a waterbody at the point the surface water enters the Reservation.
Supporting Documentation: The Bad River Tribe obtained program authority under Clean Water Act Sections 303(c)/401 in June 2009. The Bad River Tribe approved WQS in July 2011 that apply to the waters within the exterior boundaries of the Bad River Reservation. These WQS were approved by U.S. EPA in September 2011. The Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs complex and the downstream portion of the White River are examples of waters to which the Bad River Tribe’s WQS apply.
Recommendation: The WDNR should cooperate with the Bad River Tribe’s NRD and federal entities (e.g., EPA) to assess if the Bad River Tribe’s WQS will be met as a result of the potential impacts from the proposed Badgerwood project.
Issue to be Examined: The location of the proposed Badgerwood project is unique and of exceptional quality. The critical importance of the environment and natural resources of the area most likely to be impacted by the proposed CAFO – the Fish Creek and White River watersheds, as well as Chequamegon Bay – is demonstrated by the vast array of protected areas and special designations that have been put in place here.
The Bayfield Regional Conservancy’s 2009 Strategic Conservation Plan for Lake Superior’s Bayfield Peninsula names the Fish Creek watershed a Priority Conservation Area (PCA). PCAs are defined as areas where several high quality conservation values (e.g., wildlife habitat, water quality, rare species, scenic features, and wetlands) overlap with one another creating a “hot spot” of conservation. Of the 13 watersheds within Bayfield County, the Fish Creek watershed received the highest score for “Conservation Significance.” Identification of Fish Creek as a PCA was based on its rich array of habitats, fish spawning and nursery areas, rare plant communities, and diversity of aquatic plants, waterfowl and fish.
The Lake Superior Special Designation Work Group, a diverse stakeholder group organized in 1998 by a former Wisconsin governor, decided by consensus that “Lake Superior is special, sensitive, and unique and deserves a special designation.” (UW- Extension Lake Superior Basin Education). In 2002 the Work Group developed a Tier 1 category that established a no-discharge zone within one-quarter mile around river mouths and the Apostle Islands. This measure aims to protect critical spawning beds in the lake, which tribal commercial fisheries depend upon, and includes Chequamegon Bay.
The Fish Creek Sloughs have been designated a priority wetland site by the State of Wisconsin and provide important wildlife and fish habitat. This area is used heavily by waterfowl, gulls, terns, and shorebirds. Uncommon birds have been documented in this area during the breeding season. The sloughs provide spawning habitat for northern pike and nursery habitat for nearly all of the warm-water fish species in Chequamegon Bay. Twenty-nine species of reptiles occur in the Fish Creek slough, including the state threatened wood turtle: http://www.northland.edu/wp- content/uploads/2015/07/FishCreekManagementPlan.pdf
The area also includes many sites identified on the Lake Superior Binational Program’s map of Important Habitat in the Lake Superior Basin.
The Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs complex is a Wetland of International Importance, also known as a Ramsar site. The diversity of wetland types in the sloughs lends to its unique and rare features, such as vast beds of wild rice, spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, and stopover habitat for numerous migratory birds. Comprising a significant portion of the remaining Lake Superior coastal wetlands, the Kakagon and Bad River Sloughs is critical to supporting the biodiversity of Lake Superior fisheries. The sloughs complex has obtained numerous designations and recognitions, including, but not limited to, an Outstanding Tribal Resource Water (or Tier 3 water), and National Natural Landmark. This vast coastal ecosystem is comprised of unique and diverse habitats and species and supports critical regional functions, such as walleye spawning.
The area likely to be impacted by the proposed Badgerwood project contains a large number of state designated Outstanding and Exceptional Resource Waters (ORW/ERW, Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 102). These are the state’s highest quality waters, which have not been significantly impacted by human activities. The ORW/ERW status identifies waters that the State of Wisconsin has determined warrant additional protection from the effects of pollution and are subject to the state’s “antidegradation” policy (Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 207), which is designed to prevent any lowering of water quality in waters of ecological significance. The Fish Creek watershed contains 8.5 miles of perennial Outstanding or Exceptional Resource Water, including Fish Creek and North Fish Creek. The White River is designated as a state ERW. The waters of Lake Superior surrounding the mouth of Fish Creek and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are designated ORWs.
Many waters in the area are high quality trout waters, including North Fish Creek, which has been designated a Class I Trout Water by the state, the highest possible classification. In addition, the White River has been designated a Class II Trout Water.
The Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge includes 100 acres bordering Terwillinger Creek, which is located in the Fish Creek watershed downstream of the proposed CAFO. Whittlesey Creek is designated an ORW by the State of Wisconsin. The refuge was established in 1998 in an effort to restore coaster brook trout, a native trout that spawns in Whittlesey Creek and spends its adult life in Lake Superior. Salmon and other fish species also spawn in this creek.
The National Audubon Society designates certain places as Important Birding Areas (IBAs). An IBA is a site that provides essential habitat to one or more vulnerable bird species and is distinguishable in character, habitat, or ornithological importance from surrounding areas. Wisconsin has 88 IBAs, several of which lie in areas with the potential to be impacted by the proposed Badgerwood project. These areas include Lower Chequamegon Bay, the Kakagon-Bad River Wetlands-Forest Corridor, and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
In addition, the Lake Superior Binational Program has identified these same areas warranting an Important Habitat Designation, which include the North Fish Creek as watershed, Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge, and Chequamegon Bay and its connected resources (e.g., the Kakagon-Bad River sloughs).
Recommendation: The area surrounding the proposed Badgerwood project is recognized as an exceptional environmental resource, as demonstrated by the numerous special habitat designations in place. Many of these designations call for the implementation of special protections, including some dictated by state law (e.g., Wisconsin Administrative Codes NR 102 and NR 207). WDNR should identify any potential impacts from the project on these areas, determine how these impacts will affect the special habitat designations, and discuss any conflicts with management goals or laws applying to these areas.
In addition we recommend that the EIS should analyze alternatives to the proposed plan to determine the most environmentally responsible option.
Mortality Management of Dead Pigs
Issue to be Examined: All swine CAFOs have dead animals that need to be properly disposed of to minimize health and environmental risks. Badgerwood has not addressed how they are going to manage or dispose of dead animals.
Recommendation: The EIS should ensure that Badgerwood LLC details an acceptable mortality management plan that ensures their disposal methods will not create harmful impacts such as contamination of air or water or create human health hazards.
High Capacity Wells and Water Usage
Issue to be Examined: Swine CAFOs require substantial amounts of freshwater usually pumped from wells to water their pigs and for other functions.
Supporting Documentation: The Badgerwood application does not specify how many gallons of water they will pump from wells to clean manure from barns, nor do they specify how many gallons per day they will use in their water filtration odor control technology. However, they indicate they will only use 65 gallons per minute. They do not indicate how they calculated that amount of water.
Recommendation: The EIS needs to require Badgerwood LLC to carefully quantify how much water these uses will actually consume, since they indicate their draws from the well will be just under the state’s requirement for obtaining a high capacity well permit of 70 gallons per minute. Badgerwood LLC should make a map of known wells in the area of their operations to verify that they won’t be extracting any water from these other properties.
The EIS should require pump tests to be conducted on the wells on site to determine if the water rate predicted from these two wells is reasonable. The EIS should evaluate the likelihood of groundwater drawdown as a result of the proposed pumping rates and the resulting impacts on water quality and the public and private wells in the area. For example, a model simulating drawdown and other impacts may need to be developed. In addition, WDNR should consider appropriate limits, including limiting pump rates from the proposed wells, in order to avoid impacts on local wells.
Knife Injections versus Surface Spreading of Manure
Issue to be Examined: As discussed previously, the application of manure to agricultural fields will likely have unintended effects on water quality.
Supporting Documentation: To address the community’s concern for these effects, and to try to protect against excessive runoff of manure, the Bayfield County Board passed an ordinance prohibiting the application of liquid manure by spray irrigation systems. The ordinance was adopted in response to concerns about odor, stating that these systems “are a detriment to the health, safety, welfare, and convenience of the public, as they distribute manure odors recognized as a contributing factor to reduced quality of life, and that prohibition of spray irrigation systems for liquid livestock manure in the best interest of the Bayfield County residents’ public health, safety, general welfare, and convenience” (Ordinance 2015-04, http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/AgendaCenter/ViewFile/Minutes/01272015-1177). In addition, guidelines suggest that “Whenever possible, manure should be injected or worked into the soil within 3 days after application to reduce volatilization and runoff losses.” (Guidelines for Applying Manure to Croplands and Pasture in Wisconsin, http://agrisk.umn.edu/cache/ARL00155.pdf)
The original NMP submitted for the proposed Badgerwood project indicated that all manure applications would be subsurface via “knifing”. In contrast, the revised NMP (dated April 30, 2015) indicates that surface applications will occur in several alfalfa/hay/grass fields. As stated in the revised NMP, “Badgerwood, LLC anticipates using the following equipment to spread liquid manure on fields in NMP: drag-line hose with injection system. For alfalfa fields manure will likely be surface applied, likely using an aerway or gen-till.” The exact method for surface application is not indicated (e.g., box spreader versus spray irrigation), only that it will occur in combination with the named soil aeration equipment.
Recommendation: The EIS must determine the exact method of surface application intended for use by Badgerwood LLC and whether it is in conflict with the Bayfield County ordinance prohibiting liquid manure spray irrigation systems. The odor and public health issues as well as runoff potential associated with any surface applications must be fully evaluated. Further, the efficacy of odor and runoff control obtained via knifing when applied to the unique red clay soils of the application fields must be evaluated and verified.
Further, aerial spraying, which is now prohibited by county ordinance, is known to reduce pathogens in manure [Presentation on July 2, 2015 at the Great Lakes Visitor Center titled, Understanding Microbiological Risks from Livestock Operations, Dr. Mark Borchardt, Microbiologist for the USDA-Agricultural Research Service]. Consequently, Badgerwood will be required to employ manure spreading techniques (e.g., knifing, non-spray irrigation surface spreading) that are known to transmit significant pathogen loads to the soils, and ultimately to the surrounding waterways.
The EIS should also evaluate the resulting risk of pathogen release and exposure. We recommend that the EIS review thoroughly the literature to identify best practices for manure application with regards to pathogens, human health, and environmental health, and function and identify best practices that accommodate for the need to both minimize runoff and minimize risks to human health. Identifications of best practices should accommodate circumstances specific to this facility, including but not limited to: soil type, potential for uncapped wells in manure application sites, number of and distance from residential neighbors (for odor and pathogens), and potential for significant rain events (accounting also for climate change bringing about more extreme weather events).
Reasonable Project Alternatives
Issue to be Examined: This kind of project is unique in that it is not by necessity tied to a specific location. The proposed project holds great potential to cause significant disturbance to numerous important, critical, or sensitive environmental resources; negative impacts on human health; lowered quality and quantity of local drinking water supplies; and irreparable harms to the physical, mental, and economic well-being of adjacent property owners. Yet, the WPDES permit application fails to address consideration of alternative siting. In fact, within the permit application and through the permit application process, no alternative locations were suggested or examined.
Supporting Documentation: The proposed project is in conflict with numerous existing local and regional plans and initiatives, suggesting the project is contrary to the vision of local residents, visitors, and governments as well as local, state, and federal natural resource managers and that its potential impacts on the environment are unacceptable. We enumerated many of those conflicting plans in this letter starting on page 1.
The proposed facility will be the first swine CAFO in the Lake Superior watershed; it is within the 1842 Treaty Ceded Territories where tribes retain hunting, fishing and gathering rights, which are dependent upon healthy natural resources; the facility and the lands listed in the nutrient management plan fall within a watershed comprised of Outstanding Resource Waters (ORW), Exceptional Resource Waters (ERW), premier trout habitat, and numerous other special habitat designations; and manure spreading activities will occur atop a red clay basin, which causes unique erosion and sedimentation challenges.
Recommendation: We recommend that the EIS explore alternative citing options, and require the proposed project be cited within reasonable guidelines that account for natural resources, human health, and cultural protections. The EIS should also assess whether or not the design is the least damaging practicable alternative, a federal and state requirement.
Issue to be Examined: The project site is located in the red clay dominated Lake Superior lowlands of the Bayfield peninsula. These till plains soils are typical throughout the lower eastern extent of the Fish Creek watershed and provide the base for some of the most productive lands in northern Wisconsin (Fish Creek Watershed Management Plan. 2011. http://www.northland.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/FishCreekManagementPlan.pdf).
Supporting Documentation: The Sanborg-Badriver soils complex are the primary soil-type (95% of map units) for the proposed Badgerwood facility and waste application sites. These soils are characterized as very thick clay, with low permeability, and shallow to saturated zone. These fine-grained soils have slow to very slow infiltration rates (saturated hydraulic conductivity of 0.01-0.2in/hr) when thoroughly wet and a slow rate of water transmission. These factors indicate a high runoff potential and high K factor (0.55, where values can range from 0.2-0.69) characterizing the soil as highly susceptible to sheet and rill erosion. The remaining map units in the project area range from a “Low” to “Very High” runoff potential and lower K factors (0.28- .43) (Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Web Soil Survey. http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/. Accessed [9/14/2015]).
The combined slow water infiltration rate and shallow saturated zones result in soils that are “Very Limited” and unfavorable for the specified uses of manure application or disposal of wastewater by irrigation (Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Web Soil Survey. http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/. Accessed [9/14/2015]). "Very limited" indicates that the soil has one or more features that are unfavorable for the specified use proposed in the Badgerwood permit application. Additional characteristics that lend to the “very limited” status of these soils are the potential for leaching and soils being “too acid” and in some cases “ponding.” The NRCS Soil Survey prescribes that for the purposes of waste management such as the activities proposed by Badgerwood, Sanborg-Badriver soils “...generally cannot be overcome without major soil reclamation, special design, or expensive installation procedures. Poor performance and high maintenance can be expected.”
Anthropogenic activities of 1940’s such as deforestation and agriculture have created highly erodible and flash flood conditions in the Fish Creek Watershed. Flooding and sedimentation are common problems for many southern Lake Superior tributaries; Wisconsin shorelines and streams are known to be primary contributors of sediment to Lake Superior (Fitzpatrick et al., 1999. http://wi.water.usgs.gov/pubs/WRIR-99-4083/wrir-99-4083.pdf). Degradation of downstream waters is imminent via eutrophication resulting from nutrient inputs to productive soils that are highly susceptible to runoff and erosion such as those proposed in the waste management activities of the Badgerwood project.
Recommendation: Due to these conditions, the EIS should evaluate siting alternatives based on soils compatible with Badgerwood’s waste management activities, such as choosing areas with little runoff potential and sites that are “Unlimited” in regards to soils with features that are favorable to Badgerwood’s proposed waste management activities and can, with certainty, meet requirements listed in WI Admin Code NR 243 for this project.
Soils: Phosphorous Loading
Issue to be Examined: Some of the fields in the application are already high in phosphorous and no additional manure applications are recommended.
Supporting Documentation: Badgerwood’s NMP (dated April 30, 2015) indicated some fields are already rated as being “Excessively High” in soil test phosphorous. Based on the spreading information in the application, the operators indicate these fields will receive an additional phosphorous, in the form of manure. The combined impacts of spreading additional sources of phosphorous (manure) on fields already designated as having excessively high levels of phosphorous, slow infiltration and very high run-off potential will ultimately result in downstream surface water concentrations that would, with certainty, have adverse impacts on aquatic ecosystems.
Recommendation: The EIS must carefully calculate the implications and effects on soil quality and water quality after additional liquid manure is spread in the first year of operations and careful calculations of increases in spreading in subsequent years.
Long-term implications of over applying phosphorus above the assimilative capacity of soils needs to be thoroughly evaluated in the EIS.
Air Quality: Predominant Wind Direction
Issue to be Examined: According to NOAA weather records and the Bad River Tribe’s Air Program’s records of wind patterns, predominant wind directions indicate that odor and possible air-borne pathogens will blow from the CAFO site over the city of Ashland.
Supporting Documentation: The wind rose, centered on the proposed Badgerwood facility, below was created using 2014 wind data from the Ashland, WI airport. The wind rose displays the predominant wind direction, indicating where nuisance odors and possible air-borne pathogens from the proposed Badgerwood project are likely to be transported. The colored blocks indicate wind speed (ranges in knots). With a distance of only 5.7 miles between the airport and proposed facility location, and relatively open terrain of gently rolling fields and broken forest, the wind data from the Ashland airport can provide an excellent source of comparison for expected wind conditions at the proposed Badgerwood facility.
The wind rose demonstrates that any nuisance odors and possible air-borne pathogens are likely to travel primarily from the Badgerwood facility over the City of Ashland, the most densely populated city in the region and a popular tourist destination. Moderate winds typically blow from the southwest to the northeast, towards Ashland and Chequamegon Bay.
Recommendation: The EIS needs to address how the transport of strong odors and potentially air-borne pathogens will impact the well-being of this urban area, local tourism, and human health.
Air Quality: Human Health
Issue to be Examined: Toxic gases, vapors, and particles are emitted from CAFOs into the general environment. These include ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, noxious vapors, and particles contaminated with a wide range of microorganisms. Not only do the facilities themselves pollute the air, the smell of the liquid manure (when it's spread on the fields) can travel for miles, depending on wind speed and air temperature and humidity.
Supporting Documentation: Extensive occupational health studies since 1977 have documented acute and chronic respiratory diseases among CAFO workers, especially swine and poultry workers. CAFO workers commonly complain of sinusitis, acute and chronic bronchitis, inflamed mucus membranes and irritation of the nose and throat, headaches, muscle aches and pains. CAFO workers also experience asthma and acute and progressive decline in lung function. (Cole et al. 2000. “Concentrated swine feeding operations and public health: a review of occupational and community health effects”, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1638284/pdf/envhper00309-0041.pdf).
Particulate matter associated with CAFOs is composed of fecal matter, feed materials, skin cells, and the products of microbial action on feces and feed (http://www.publichealth.uiowa.edu/ehsrc/CAFOstudy/CAFO_finalChap_3.pdf). Bioaerosols are a major component of the particulate matter from CAFOs. Bioaerosols are particles of biological origin that are suspended in air. These include bacteria, fungi, fungal and bacterial spores, viruses, mammalian cell debris, products of microorganisms, pollens, and aeroallergens. Bacterial and fungal bioaerosols may be of infectious or non-infectious species. Bacterial products or components exist as bioaerosols and include endotoxins, exotoxins, peptidoglycans, lipoteichoic acids, and bacterial DNA bearing CpG motifs. (http://www.public- health.uiowa.edu/ehsrc/CAFOstudy/CAFO_finalChap_3.pdf)
Health effects associated with inhalation of toxins and bioaerosols are manifold. Medical problems commonly associated with inhaled agents include respiratory diseases (asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, industrial bronchitis), cardiovascular events (sudden death associated with particulate air pollution), and neuropsychiatric conditions (due to odor as well as delayed effects of toxic inhalations). (http://www.public- health.uiowa.edu/ehsrc/CAFOstudy/CAFO_6-3.pdf). The anaerobic reaction that occurs when manure is stored in pits or lagoons for long amounts of time is the primary cause of the smells. Odors from waste are carried away from farm areas on dust and other air particles (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf).
Recommendation: In the EIS, WDNR must identify risks to the CAFO employees posed by the likely air quality conditions and ensure that Badgerwood LLC takes all steps to minimize or eliminate potential harm to workers.
Surface Water Quality: Existing Conditions
Issue to be Examined: The current conditions of surface waters that may be potentially impacted by the proposed Badgerwood project need to be understood.
Supporting Documentation: Federally-approved water quality standards contain designated uses for each water body or segment, such as fish and aquatic life, recreation, public health and welfare, and wildlife. The WDNR is obligated to evaluate if surface waters are meeting (fully or partially) their designated uses. It is currently unknown if some of the surface waters that have the potential to be directly or indirectly impacted by the proposed Badgerwood project are meeting all of their designated uses. For example, the WDNR does not know if South Fish Creek, Fish Creek, or Lake Superior at the mouth of Fish Creek is currently meeting its fish and aquatic life designated uses (WDNR. Waters in the Watershed Fish Creek (LS08). http://dnr.wi.gov/water/watershedWaters.aspx?code=LS08, Accessed: 9/23/15). Additionally, the WDNR does not know if Schramm Creek is currently meeting its fish and aquatic life designated use (WDNR. Waters in the Watershed White River (LS10). http://dnr.wi.gov/water/watershedWaters.aspx?code=LS10, Accessed: 9/23/15).
Recommendation: The EIS should be drafted with a collaboration with entities that collect surface water data in the region to examine the data available for the surface waters and identify gaps in the data set. Surface water data should be collected as necessary to evaluate the current conditions of surface waters and determine if the surface waters are currently meeting the applicable designated uses.
Surface Water Quality: Pollutant Loading
Issues to be Examined: Increased loadings (e.g., nutrients, ammonia, pathogens) to surface waters is a primary concern associated with CAFOs. A cumulative assessment of impacts to surface waters is needed.
Supporting Documentation: Agricultural activity (e.g., crop production, grazing, and animal farming operations) is the top source of impairment in rivers and streams assessed across the nation, causing over 35% of impairments, and is one of the top sources of impairment in assessed lakes (U.S. EPA, Jan. 2009. National Water Quality Inventory: Report to Congress, 2004 Reporting Cycle. EPA 841-R-08-001. www.epa.gov/305b).
The pollutants most commonly associated with manure include nutrients (particularly nitrogen and phosphorus), ammonia, oxygen-demanding substances, pathogens, solids, salts, trace metals, antibiotics, pesticides, and hormones (U.S. EPA. Potential Environmental Impacts of Animal Feeding Operations. http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/impacts.html. Accessed: 9/22/15).
In the Bad River watershed, the Bad River Natural Resource Department has been monitoring total phosphorus concentrations at over 35 stream monitoring stations. Elevated phosphorus is already a concern at multiple at monitoring stations, including locations in the Marengo River watershed and the Beartrap Creek watershed. Often the monitoring stations with the most exceedances of the total phosphorus threshold (0.075 mg/L) are located downstream of small- scale agricultural practices, as shown in the figure below. An evaluation of increased nutrient loading to streams as a result of the proposed large-scale concentration agricultural operation is critical to prevent further degradation of surface waters in the Chequamegon Bay area.
Research by Dr. Randy Lehr, an environmental science professor at Northland College (Ashland, WI), has demonstrated that phosphorous levels in Fish Creek are already excessively high (http://fyi.uwex.edu/extensioninthenewsbak/2015/07/06/as-wisconsin-dnr-studies-impact-of- proposed-supersize-pig-farm-community-divide-deepens/). High phosphorous in the creek sediments are washed directly into Chequamegon Bay, increasing the risk of algae blooms, dead zones, fish kills, and E. coli outbreaks. Fish Creek delivers over 1,000 dump truck loads of sediment to the Bay each year (http://www.northland.edu/sustain/soei/cbap/). The photo below shows the plume of sediments entering Chequamegon Bay following a rain event in 2012 (Photo credit: Northland College). Severe storms, carrying even more sediments into the Bay, are expected to become more common with climate change. The proposed Badgerwood project is likely to result in a substantial increased risk to human health at Lake Superior beaches due to fecal contamination entering surface waters. In both 2013 and 2014, almost half of the days within the swimming season at Ashland’s Maslowski beach had an advisory or closure issued due to E. coli concentrations exceeding the water quality criteria (Data retrieved from Wisconsin Beach Health website in June 2015. http://www.wibeaches.us/). The frequency of swimming advisories and beach closures will likely increase with additional animal manure being stored and applied to fields upstream of local beaches.
Recommendation: The EIS needs to contain thorough assessments of the potential increase in loadings to the surface waters (including sediments) due to the proposed Badgerwood project. Each of the potential pollutants associated with manure (e.g., nutrients, ammonia, oxygen- demanding substances, pathogens) and other constituents associated with the construction and/or operation of the proposed Badgerwood project should be evaluated. This assessment should include both the increase in loading to the surface waters and sediments along with the potential impacts of that loading to the surface waters and the organisms and people utilizing those waters (e.g., aquatic life, fisheries, wildlife, drinking water, swimmers and beachgoers). Both short term and long term potential impacts should be quantified.
There is currently no system proposed to ensure proper functioning of this facility. We recommend that the EIS consider the need to consider all containment options and require a leakage detection system on the storage facility to ensure zero discharge of pollutants to the environment.
Furthermore, the EIS needs to contain cumulative assessments of potential loadings to surface waters. The cumulative assessment needs to consider other sources (e.g., small-scale agricultural practices, wastewater treatment plants) of the constituents of concern along with the potential impacts from the proposed Badgerwood project. The cumulative assessment also needs to evaluate the synergistic effects of the potential pollutants. Again, both short term and long term potential impacts should be analyzed.
Surface Water Quality: Accurate Mapping of Surface Waters
Issue to be Examined: Accurate mapping of all surface waters (e.g., perennial streams, intermittent streams, ephemeral streams) and connectivity between them is necessary to evaluate the potential impacts of Badgerwood’s manure application and facility construction and operation on surface waters and identify alternatives to and gaps in the proposed project plans.
Supporting Documentation: Application of manure to fields and other aspects of the proposed Badgerwood project may result in the impairment of the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of downstream waters. Accurate locations and extents of surface waters is critical to inform decision making as even small, seemingly insignificant, surface waters are crucial to watershed health. For instance, the EPA concluded that “the scientific literature unequivocally demonstrates that streams, regardless of their size and frequency of flow, are connected to downstream waters and strongly influence their function” (U.S. EPA, January 2015. Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence. EPA/600/R-14/475F. www.epa.gov/research).
Based on our experience, current surface water mapping in the region can be inaccurate, leaving out numerous miles of waterways that exist on the landscape. Thus, it is not enough to consult the digital maps present for the project area, but one must also complete on-the-ground field work to verify the presence of surface waters. This field work should be done by a trained professional.
Without accurate information on the surface water locations, the EIS cannot thoroughly describe the environmental consequences of the proposed actions nor can the EIS identify efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, both of which are policies adopted by the State of Wisconsin under NR150.04(1). In addition, this information can provide the appropriate data to determine if there is an alternative to the proposed NMP or facility that provides a less damaging practicable alternative that achieves the overall project purpose while minimizing the impacts to surface waters to the maximum extent practicable, and does not contribute to significant degradation of downstream waters. Without knowing the location of surface waters (including wetlands) within the lands identified in the NMP (both for regular and emergency use) and the proposed facility plan, it impossible for the EIS to accurately assess whether or not the design is the least damaging practicable alternative, a federal and state requirement.
Furthermore, all of the restrictions that protect the surface waters during the field application of manure or process wastewater rely on knowing the exact location and extent of the water resources (e.g., wetlands) within and nearby the proposed CAFO facility and lands named in its NMP. These restrictions include, but are not limited to: setbacks from navigable waters, conduits to navigable water, and wetlands; restrictions to the type of manure application process used within Surface Water Quality Management Areas (SWQMA) and near the water resources;nbuffer areas near the water resources within the SWQMA; and application rate restrictions (NR243.14(4)).
Recommendation: We recommend that the EIS use cooperating agencies to gather the data needed to accurately identify the location of all surface waters (e.g., streams, ponds, drainages, wetlands) within 0.5 mile of any activity related to the proposed Badgerwood CAFO. Accurate location data may also need to be gathered for surface waters downstream that are greater than 0.5 mile from the proposed project area. We further recommend that the WDNR use this information to assess the impacts to the surface waters (including downstream waters) and evaluate if the proposed NMP is adequate and appropriate. While preparing the EIS, WDNR should refer to EPA’s recent report titled “Connectivity of Streams and Wetlands to Downstream Waters: A Review and Synthesis of the Scientific Evidence.”
Hydrology of Chequamegon Bay
Issue to be Examined: The complex hydrology of the Chequamegon Bay area needs to be better understood in order to evaluate potential impacts of the proposed project.
Supporting Documentation: The hydrology of the Chequamegon Bay area is complicated, driven by numerous factors, and not well understood. It is critical to better understand the interactions between the water draining off the landscape and entering tributaries that flow into high quality waters, such as the estuaries (i.e., Fish Creek Slough, Kakagon/Bad River Sloughs complex) along with understanding the seiche and the intermixing and exchanging of waters between the estuaries and Lake Superior.
The hydrology of the Chequamegon Bay area influences the health of the surrounding unique natural and cultural resources (e.g., Apostle Islands, Madeline Island, Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs complex) and the species dependent upon them (e.g., wild rice). For example, the Bad River Natural Resource Department routinely monitors E. coli concentrations at Amincon Bay beach, which is located within the exterior boundaries of the Bad River Reservation. This beach has not had a swimming advisory posted as E. coli concentrations are typically low. However, E. coli concentrations were above 126 MPN/100 mL on July 14, 2015, likely associated with runoff events and the flushing out of the bay. Sand Cut Slough (a wild rice water) is another beach location the Bad River Natural Resource Department routinely monitors that typically has low E. coli concentrations and is influenced by the complex hydrology of the bay area. On August 5, 2014, the E. coli concentrations in Sand Cut Slough exceeded the 235 MPN/100 L advisory level, and a swimming advisory was issued by the Bad River Natural Resource Department.
Recommendation: The EIS should implement a study to better understand the hydrology of the Chequagemon Bay area, in the context of Lake Superior. This study should be implemented in collaboration with tribal, federal, and other state entities with support from the academic community. As part of the study, a model should be developed and the field data necessary to support it should be collected. The model should be one tool used in the evaluation of potential short-term and long-term impacts from the proposed Badgerwood project. Climate change scenarios need to be considered during this evaluation. This study is crucial to assessing if the Bad River Tribe’s water quality standards will be met and if Outstanding Tribal Resource Waters (e.g., Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs complex) and other high quality waters will be protected.
Issue to be Examined: The EIS must evaluate the potential risk of groundwater contamination due to the proposed Badgerwood project.
Supporting Documentation: CAFOs can contaminate the groundwater resources through runoff from land application of manure, leaching from manure that has been improperly spread on land, and through leaks or breaks in storage or containment units (Hribar, C., 2010. Understanding Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and Their Impacts on Communities. National Association of Local Boards of Health. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf. Accessed: 9/27/2015). The following potential contaminants to groundwater can arise from CAFOs: dissolved solids, nutrients, metals and metalloids, pathogens, antibiotics, and natural and synthetic hormones (U.S. EPA, September 2012. Case Studies on the Impact of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) on Ground Water Quality. EPA 600/R-12/052. http://nepis.epa.gov/Adobe/PDF/P100F9DI.pdf). According to the U.S. EPA (2012), groundwater contamination by nitrate or ammonium has been documented at very different types of CAFOs. Potential long-term impacts to the groundwater system as the result of the build-up of salts or other constituents associated with CAFOs is unknown.
Recommendation: The EIS should include a thorough analysis of the potential risk of groundwater contamination as a result of the proposed project. As part of this evaluation, field data should be collected as necessary to support scientifically-sound conclusions. This evaluation should include the creation of regional groundwater model(s) and discuss both short- term and long-term potential adverse impacts to groundwater.
Groundwater/Surface Water Interactions
Issue to be Examined: The groundwater/surface water interactions in the watersheds that have the potential to be affected by the proposed Badgerwood project need to be understood.
Supporting Documentation: Surface water and groundwater in this system should be considered conceptually as one continuous resource. This high degree of interconnectedness has many implications. Surface contamination has a high risk of reaching groundwater, and contaminants present in groundwater are likely to find short and rapid paths to discharge to surface water. Surface water commonly is hydraulically connected to ground water, but the interactions are difficult to observe and measure and commonly have been ignored in water- management considerations and policies (Winter et al. 1998. Groundwater and Surface Water: A Single Resource. USGS Circular 1139. http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/circ1139/#pdf).
It has been documented the groundwater that feeds small streams and spring on the eastern side of Fish Creek Slough originates in the vicinity of State Highway 118 (Fish Creek Watershed Restoration and Management Plan. 2011. Ashland County Land and Water Conservation Department. http://www.northland.edu/wp- content/uploads/2015/07/FishCreekManagementPlan.pdf).
Recommendation: A groundwater/surface water interaction study should be implemented in the EIS to better understand the connections between the groundwater and surface waters in the vicinity of the proposed project area, including, but not limited to, identifying the gaining and losing reaches of waterways.
Wetlands: Accurate Mapping of Wetlands
Issue to be Examined: Accurate locations and boundaries of all wetlands (and all surface waters) are necessary to evaluate the potential impacts of Badgerwood’s manure application and facility construction on wetlands and to identify alternatives to and gaps in the proposed project plans.
Supporting Documentation: Application of manure to or near wetlands may result in the degradation of water quality and the impairment of wetland functions which could potentially cause cascading impacts to downstream waters. Current state permitting regulations do not require wetland delineations be performed on areas being affected by manure spreading under the Nutrient Management Plan (NMP). Rather, Badgerwood would be required to verify surface waters in the field prior to the application of manure, and the WDNR does not require minimum credentials for personnel conducting this belated field verification (WDNR CAFO Informational Meeting with Tribes, Odanah, WI. May 5, 2015).
Current wetland mapping in the region is inaccurate and tends to under represent the wetland acres actually present: “There are cases where wetlands exist on a property where these maps do not show wetlands or indications of wetlands.” (WDNR, Surface Water Data Viewer: Wetland Indicators Map Disclaimer, 2015) According to the disclaimer that accompanies the wetland mapping layers available through the WDNR’s Surface Water Data Viewer (2015. http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/surfacewater/swdv/): “it is critical to also conduct an on-site investigation of the property to verify the presence or absence of wetlands” and “only a wetland professional can verify wetlands are present on a property”. Thus, it is not enough to consult the digital maps present for the project area but to complete on-the-ground field work to verify wetland presence and this field work should be done by a trained wetland professional.
Without accurate information on the wetland locations and boundaries, the EIS cannot thoroughly describe the environmental consequences of the proposed actions nor can the EIS promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment, both of which are policies adopted by the State of Wisconsin under NR150.04(1). In addition, this information can also provide the appropriate data to determine if there is an alternative to the proposed NMP or facility that provides a less damaging practicable alternative that achieves the overall project purpose while minimizing the impacts to wetlands and other water resources to the maximum extent practicable, and does not contribute to significant degradation of downstream waters.
Without knowing the location of wetlands (and other surface waters) within the lands identified in the NMP (both for regular and emergency use) and the proposed facility plan, it impossible for the EIS to accurately assess whether or not the design is the least damaging practicable alternative, a federal and state requirement.
Furthermore, all of the restrictions that protect the wetlands and other aquatic resources during the field application of manure or process wastewater rely on knowing the exact location and extent of the water resources (e.g., wetlands) within and nearby the proposed CAFO facility and lands named in its NMP. These restrictions include, but are not limited to: setbacks from navigable waters, conduits to navigable water, and wetlands; restrictions to the type of manure application process used within Surface Water Quality Management Areas (SWQMA) and near the water resources; buffer areas near the water resources with the SWQMA; and application rate restrictions (NR243.14(4)). In addition, NR243.14(2) lists additional restrictions to discharges of manure or process wastewater, including, but not limited to, “Manure or process wastewater may not be applied to saturated soils” NR243.14(2)(b)5.
Recommendation: We recommend that the EIS gather the data needed to accurately identify the location and extent of all wetlands and surface waters (e.g., streams, ponds, drainages) within 0.5 mile of any activity related to the proposed Badgerwood CAFO. We further recommend that the WDNR use this information to assess the impacts to the wetlands and evaluate if the proposed NMP is adequate and appropriate.
Wetlands: Mitigation Sequencing
Issue to be Examined: The EIS must incorporate a review of mitigation sequencing to limit and offset impacts to aquatic resources.
Supporting Documentation: Aligned with the objective of the Clean Water Act (CWA), mitigation sequencing is required for activities needing approval under Section 404 of the CWA. Adverse impacts to wetlands and other aquatic resources must first be avoided and then unavoidable impacts to the aquatic resources must be minimized. Compensatory mitigation, the third step in mitigation sequencing, may be required to offset unavoidable adverse impacts to the aquatic resources. Practicable alternatives for the proposed project must be thoroughly evaluated to first determine if and how adverse impacts to the aquatic resources can first be avoided and then determine if and how unavoidable impacts can be reduced.
Recommendation: We recommend that the EIS, in cooperation with the Army Corps of Engineers, evaluate if adverse impacts to the aquatic resources as a result of the proposed project are avoidable and if adverse impacts to the aquatic resources can be minimized (if determined impacts are unavoidable). The WDNR and the Army Corps of Engineers should then determine if compensatory mitigation for any adverse impacts that remain is feasible and describe the methods of compensatory mitigation that would result in no net loss of aquatic resource acres and functions.
Wetlands: Water Quality and Function
Issue to be Examined: Badgerwood’s proposed project may impact wetland water quality and function, as well as negatively alter the current condition of the wetlands directly and indirectly impacted by the project.
Supporting Documentation: Under NR 103, the water quality related functional values of wetlands must be protected so as to protect and preserve the quality of waters in wetlands and those waters influenced by wetlands. Understanding wetland functions and the underlying
chemical, physical, and biological processes supporting these functions is critical to the management and protection of wetlands and their associated basins (Carter, V. 1996. Technical Aspects of Wetlands: Wetland Hydrology, Water Quality, and Associated Functions. in Fretwell, J.D., et al., U.S. Geological Survey National Water Summary on Wetland Resources: Water- Supply Paper 2425. http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/wsp2425). Multiple variables control the hydrologic and water quality functions of wetlands, such as landscape position, topographic location, presence or absence of vegetation, type of vegetation, type of soil, quantity of water flowing into the wetland, quantity of water flowing out of the wetland, local climate, the hydrogeologic framework, and the geochemistry of surface and ground water (Carter, 1996). Assessment geared towards understanding the hydrologic and water quality functions of wetlands need to incorporate these variables that control the functions. Without taking into account the complexity of the environment and the ecological linkages between the wetland and the downstream ecosystems, the EIS cannot accurately assess impacts of the proposed project on the wetland resources and the effect on the health of the downstream waters.
Recommendation: We recommend that the EIS include a functional assessment on wetlands directly or indirectly impacted by this project once the location and extent of all wetlands and surface waters (e.g., streams, ponds, drainages) within 0.5 mile of any activity related to the proposed Badgerwood CAFO have been identified. This information should then be used to assess if changes in wetland functions are expected as a result of the proposed project, and how it may impact the condition of connected and downstream waters.
Fisheries, Aquatic Biota, and Wildlife
Issue to be Examined: Increased releases (e.g., nutrients, manure, antibiotics) to the environment as a result of the proposed Badgerwood facility are likely to result in negative impacts on wildlife, fish, and other aquatic organisms.
Supporting Documentation: Surface water likely to be impacted by the project are important spawning and nursery areas for a number of fish species. Lake Superior tributaries and their sloughs (e.g. Fish Creek, Kakagon-Bad River) provide spawning habitat for lake sturgeon, walleye, salmon, and northern pike as well as nursery habitat for nearly all of the warm-water fish species in Chequamegon Bay. As a result, the sloughs are critical to supporting the biodiversity of Lake Superior fisheries. There are also a number of high quality trout waters in the area, including North Fish Creek, which has been designated a Class I Trout Water by the state, the highest possible classification. In addition, the White River has been designated a Class II Trout Water.
These waters provide important habitat for fish species that are current targets of restoration efforts in the state, most notably lake sturgeon and coaster brook trout. The Whittlesey Creek National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1998 in an effort to restore coaster brook trout, a native trout that spawns in Whittlesey Creek and spends its adult life in Lake Superior, including Chequamegon Bay. Lake sturgeon, which are globally ranked as vulnerable to extirpation or extinction, are present in Chequamegon Bay and spawn in the White and Bad Rivers. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team have identified the lake sturgeon as a restoration priority.
The fish in Chequamegon Bay constitute a critically important subsistence and commercial resource for local tribes. These activities are protected by the tribes’ treaty rights (Treaty of 1842, 7 Stat. 591), which guaranteed that they could continue their way of life (or “lifeway”) in a manner that meets their subsistence, economic, cultural, medicinal, and spiritual needs. These rights necessarily include access to a healthy, sustainable resource base to support their hunting, fishing and gathering rights.
The spreading of manure from CAFOs is known to negatively impact fish populations and communities. Runoff, which generally peaks during the spring snow melt, corresponds with the critical periods of spawning, hatching, and early development for many fish species. Even brief exposures during critical developmental periods can induce long-lasting effects. Inputs of nutrients and hormones from these operations result in decreased species richness and fishes with faster somatic growth, lower reproductive condition and fitness, skewed sex ratios towards males, and hormone concentrations above lowest observable effects concentrations (CDC http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf, and Leet et al. 2012. http://www.researchgate.net/profile/James_Lazorchak/publication/233744739_Assessing_impact s_of_land- applied_manure_from_concentrated_animal_feeding_operations_on_fish_populations_and_com munities/links/09e4150de18decab09000000.pdf). Studies show that these hormones alter the reproductive habits of aquatic species living in these waters, including a significant decrease in the fertility of female fish. (CDC, Understanding Concentrated Feeding Operations and Their Impacts on Health, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf )
According to the EPA, “there are numerous examples nationwide of fish kills resulting from manure discharges and runoff from various types of AFOs” (http://www.epa.gov/agriculture/ag101/impactoxygen.html, accessed: 9/23/15). In the Great Lakes, we have witnessed the decades long struggle to mitigate the negative impacts of expanding dead zones caused by agricultural runoff. These dead zones are found in aquatic ecosystems geographically and ecologically similar to Chequamegon Bay. The first ever blue green algae bloom on Lake Superior occurred in 2012 in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The prospect of higher nutrient levels in Lake Superior is concerning, especially since Lake Superior surface waters have been documented to be increasing. Once established, these dead zones are fatal to aquatic life.
The Fish Creek Sloughs and Chequamegon Bay are used heavily by waterfowl, gulls, terns, and shorebirds, and uncommon birds have been documented in this area during breeding season. The Kakagon-Bad River Sloughs provides stopover habitat for numerous migratory birds. The Fish Creek Watershed is home to a great number of sensitive species, including the state threatened wood turtle, 11 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN), and 20 Wisconsin National Heritage Inventory species (listing is here: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/NHI/WList.html). In addition, Long Island is the only location in the state where the federally-endangered piping plover nests. The bay area is also home to vast beds of mussels, which are known to be adversely impacted by ammonia from agricultural runoff.
Recommendation: The lands and waters that surround or are likely to be impacted by the proposed Badgerwood facility provide important wildlife and fish habitat to vast array of species, only a fraction of which are discussed above. The EIS should address the potential impacts of this project on these and all native species in the area. An evaluation is needed to ensure potential impacts from the proposed CAFO do not worsen the water quality beyond a point supportive of the propagation of fish and wildlife and to ensure that these high quality resources are not unnecessarily degraded.
Threatened and Endangered Species
Issue to be Examined: The Fish Creek watershed and Chequamegon Bay are home to a variety of threatened, endangered, and special concern species, some of which are unique to the region.
Lake sturgeon are present in Chequamegon Bay and spawn in the White and Bad Rivers. Lake sturgeon are globally ranked as vulnerable to extirpation or extinction. Lake sturgeon are federally listed as a management concern with a Natural Heritage Status Rank of N3N4 (apparently secure to vulnerable to extirpation or extinction). The United States Fish and Wildlife Service Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem Team have identified the lake sturgeon as a restoration priority. In addition, the Nature Conservancy has designated lake sturgeon as a conservation target, and the WDNR has listed lake sturgeon as a “watch” species.
Wood turtles occur in areas of potential impact from the project including the Fish Creek sloughs, and are state listed as a threatened species.
Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI) identifies habitats and species that are “at risk”. According to the NHI database, 5 plant species and 15 wildlife species with rankings of S1 to S3 and/or G1-G3 have been observed within the Fish Creek watershed. 11 of these 15 wildlife species have also been identified as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) in the State of 2005 Strategy for Wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) (http://dnr.wi.gov/files/PDF/pubs/ER/ER0641.pdf). These species are listed below.
Natural Heritage Element Occurrence List (Stars denote SGCN)
The beaches of Long Island are the only location in the state where the federally- endangered piping plover nests. In a letter to WDNR dated May 13, 2015, the National Parks Service expressed great concern about the potential impacts on this species as a result of the Badgerwood project.
About 70% of North American freshwater mussel species are considered endangered, threatened, or of special concern, and contamination is one of the contributing factors to declines in mussel population. (United States Geological Survey, 2007. Contaminant Sensitivity of Freshwater Mussels. A Columbia Environmental Research Center Publication Brief. http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/Assets/UploadedFiles/ExternalDocs/mussels.pdf, accessed: 6/5/2015). Ammonia causes direct toxic effects on mussels and other aquatic life, and runoff from agricultural lands is one pathway of ammonia entering surface waters. (United States Geological Survey, 2007. Contaminant Sensitivity of Freshwater Mussels. A Columbia Environmental Research Center Publication Brief. http://www.cerc.usgs.gov/Assets/UploadedFiles/ExternalDocs/mussels.pdf, accessed: 6/5/2015). An evaluation of potential impacts from the proposed CAFO project to mussel populations, including the vast mussel bed documented on the Chequamegon Bay side of Long Island, needs to be conducted. This evaluation needs to consider the cumulative effects of ammonia and other constituents on these sensitive aquatic organisms.
Recommendation: The EIS should investigate the potential impacts of this project on these and any other identified threatened, endangered, or special concern species in the area. The EIS should include information such as: what threatened, endangered, or species of concern could be affected by this facility; what habitats and ecological communities exist within the potentially effected watersheds; and what are the baseline conditions requirements for maintaining functional ecological communities and healthy populations of existing species. The EIS should offer alternative modes of operation wherever baseline data suggests operations will result in negative impacts on species of concern.
Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV)
Issue to be Examined: Transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) is a coronavirus of swine that causes transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) and was first documented in the U.S. in
1946. Veterinarians and swine producers across the country are familiar with the virus, the disease it causes, and ways to prevent, treat, and control it. Recently another swine enteric virus called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), also of the Coronaviridae family, has been found in swine CAFOs in southern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. The PEDV has been identified in other countries since 1971 including England, China, Taiwan, Korea, and others.
At a public meeting held by the Bayfield County Board on February 18, 2015, Gene Noem, self- identified representative of Badgerwood LLC, said the reason Dale Reicks purchased land in this area of Wisconsin was to get away from the rampant spread of the PEDv virus that Iowa and Minnesota swine CAFO operators have been enduring. Listen to his presentation here at approximately six minutes: http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/mediacenter.aspx?VID=23
In a factsheet offered to the Bayfield County Board, Reicks View Farm representatives gave the reason for why they wanted to locate here: “Northern Wisconsin is well isolated from other pigs. This specific location is advantageous in maintaining very high health status herd.” In other words, the significant move to Wisconsin is to keep his pigs away from a deadly virus found in neighboring states.
This introduced virus is an invasive species, and has been killing piglets in Iowa where the owners of Badgerwood operate pig CAFOs. Trucks will be going back and forth from Badgerwood to Iowa pig processing facilities, so there is a risk of carrying the invasive virus into central and northern Wisconsin during transport. It has not been found in those regions yet. If it is carried in, it could have a devastating impact on small swine farms already established in those regions.
Supporting Documentation: The Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine has a comprehensive history of the “exotic” virus, how and where it has spread, and the impacts on swine herds (http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/new-vdpam-employees/food-supply-veterinary- medicine/swine/swine-diseases/exotic-viral-diseases#diarrhea).
Recommendation: The EIS needs to assess how Badgerwood intends to prohibit the spread of this invasive virus into a region of the state where no virus has ever been found. A quantitative analysis of the economic impacts of the loss of pigs in existing small farms should be done to assess damages to a robust local husbandry economy if the PEDv virus is introduced.
Issue to be Examined: Wild rice is a cultural and subsistence resource food for the regional Ojibwe tribes. Potential impacts to wild rice beds need to be examined.
Supporting Documentation: Chequamegon Bay is home to several important wild rice stands, including those found in the Bad River and Kakagon Sloughs. Agricultural runoff from the proposed Badgerwood project will enter Chequamegon Bay via both the Fish Creek and White River watersheds. The increased nutrient loadings have the potential to impact wild rice presence and productivity directly via nutrient availability and cycling impacts, as well as indirectly by contributing to the formation of algal blooms and/or dead zones (low oxygen areas) in the Bay. The potential increased loading of other constituents (e.g., trace metals) may also adversely impact the wild rice beds.
Recommendation: The EIS should determine the amount of additional loading (e.g., nutrients, trace metals) to the Bay as a result of the proposed project, where in the Bay the constituent of concern are likely to move to and accumulate, and the impact of increased pollutant loadings on existing wild rice stands.
Tribal Resources and Cultural Issues; Tourism, and Jobs
Issue to be Examined: Cultural values guide our decisions as a tribe and as a greater regional community on how we want to manage our resources and how we envision future economic development. This includes how we want to develop our region’s tourism industry, fisheries, and agricultural production. Badgerwood LLC’s development plans run counter to our values and so far have misrepresented or have failed to address their potential impacts on these sectors. Expected impacts on environmental quality will negatively affect local economies and run counter to cultural and community values and rights.
Bad River and Red Cliff tribes maintain reserved treaty rights under the 1837 and 1842 Treaties in Wisconsin, and the reservation-based rights of the 1854 Treaty. Badgerwood LLC’s proposed project falls within Ceded Territory and waters connected to reservations. It therefore requires special consideration of treaty rights throughout the state permitting process.
Bad River and Red Cliff have commercial fishing interests on Lake Superior. Treaty-
protected commercial fishing harvests for these tribes on Lake Superior typically exceeds 1 million dressed pounds of lake trout and whitefish annually. Cisco (herring) harvest can approach half million pounds in the round annually, and other species like burbot, walleye, siscowet trout and chubs are harvested commercially as well.
Impacts to fish populations will have negative impacts on commercial fishing and the subsistence fishing Bad River tribal members employ under treaty rights.
The people of Red Cliff and Bad River maintain traditional rights to hunt, fish, and gather within Ceded Territories. The foods that are hunted, fished, and gathered are staples of Indian diets, and hold a significant place within daily practices.
The Bad River economy is partly tied to Ashland County’s economic health. If the popular attributes of Chequamegon Bay (namely the clean water and air used for recreation and tourism) are impaired from fouled water and air, this affects the economies of both jurisdictions.
The application indicates at most 25 new low-paying jobs for unskilled workers. The number of new jobs does not justify the extremely high potential that a robust tourism economy based on clean water and fresh air will be negatively affected.
Largely comprised of small businesses, travel and hospitality jobs can’t be outsourced or exported. The tourism industry provides work across the spectrum of employment from entry level and part-time jobs to management, executive and entrepreneurial positions. (http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/2081)
Recommendation: The EIS process needs to include an analysis of how the proposed facility could negatively impact hunting, fishing, and gathering treaty rights, well as how the facility could impact the local fisheries, tourist economy, and other relevant regional economic sectors. In addition to running predictive models based on measurable environmental variables, the EIS should include a thorough literature review of the impacts imparted by CAFOs of similar scale and scope that are already established in other communities with similar cultural and economic emphasis (hunting/gathering, fisheries, tourism, small-scale agriculture, etc.). If the literature review is not sufficient, the EIS needs to address this issue very closely.
Disease and Human Health
Issue to be Examined: Manure poses a number of human health risks including exposure to pathogens and contamination of drinking water with nitrates. There is ample evidence that pathogens from agricultural operations have caused human disease outbreaks and ecological damage in the past (Risk Assessment Evaluation for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, EPA, http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/901V0100.PDF?Dockey=901V0100.PDF).
Current water quality permitting requirements do not sufficiently protect against transport of these contaminants as a result of manure applications.
Supporting Documentation: Concentrated animal production exacerbates the risk for spread of disease among animals within the production facility, to humans, to animals at neighboring farms, and to wild populations.
Animal manure is a potential source of over 150 pathogens (CDC, Understanding Concentrated Feeding Operations and Their Impacts on Health, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf). The organisms of concern in animal waste include bacteria, fungi, protozoa, viruses, or worms. When released into the environment, these organisms may adversely affect human and animal populations. Although CAFOs are not the only source of these microorganisms, they are a major source of pathogenic contamination in most watersheds, resulting in over one-third of waterbodies evaluated by states, as required by the Clean Water Act, being unfit for swimming and/or fishing and up to 43% of the source waters from which drinking water is obtained in the United States exhibiting pathogen contamination from CAFO operations (Pell, 1997. http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(97)76227-1/pdf).
About 15% of the population of the United States obtains drinking water from individual wells. When wells are located in areas hydrologically connected to CAFO operations, individuals using these wells may be exposed to pathogenic organisms present in the groundwater, which may result in illness. Because of the large number of animals kept in CAFO operations, the likelihood that one or more of the animals is infected with one or more pathogens is very high. In addition to pathogen risks, if a CAFO has contaminated drinking water, community members should be concerned about nitrates and nitrate poisoning. Elevated nitrates in drinking water can be especially harmful to infants, leading to blue baby syndrome and possible death. (CDC, Understanding Concentrated Feeding Operations and Their Impacts on Health, http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf). Water tests have also uncovered hormones in surface waters surrounding CAFOs (Burkholder et al., 2007. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1817674/pdf/ehp0115-000308.pdf).
Further, because of the large volume of waste produced, manure may be disposed of off-site. Distribution of manure beyond the production facility bears the possibility of serious environmental and economic consequences. For example, manure from a farm with an infected animal could spread the disease to several other farms receiving manure as fertilizer. The consequences could range from increased veterinary bills to treat affected animals to wholesale destruction of infected animals, depending on the specific disease. Recognizing the severity of this issue, the USDA has published several biosecurity guidelines for farms to help secure production facilities from external contamination.
CAFOs and their waste can be breeding grounds for insect vectors. Residences closest to the feeding operations experience a much higher fly population than average homes. Houseflies, stable flies, and mosquitoes are the most common insects associated with CAFOs. Although typically considered only nuisances, insects can agitate livestock and decrease animal health and contribute to the dispersion of drug-resistant bacteria. Since flies are attracted to and eat human food, there is a potential for spreading bacteria or pathogens to humans, including microbes that can cause dysentery and diarrhea (CDC. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf).
Those residents living closest to a CAFO operation are at highest risk for all of these factors. For example, according to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, one’s proximity to swine manure application fields and livestock operations was associated with increased rates of MRSA and skin and soft-tissue infection (http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1738717&resultClick=3#ArticleInforma tion).
The Bayfield County Health Department has expressed deep concerns about the possible human health impacts of a local swine CAFO. Terry Kramolis, RN, C, BSN, MSHA, the director and health officer of Bayfield County Health Department, assigned several of her staff members to research potential human health impacts to help her department understand this very new human health issue in the county. Based on their findings, Ms. Kramolis and her staff recommended to the Bayfield County Board of Supervisors that the County enact a moratorium on siting CAFOs until more studies could be reviewed. We recommend that WDNR contact Ms. Kramolis to interview her about her concerns for the residents and visitors to Bayfield County. She can be reached here: firstname.lastname@example.org; (715) 373-6109.
Recommendation: WDNR should include in the EIS an evaluation of all potential human health impacts from the proposed Badgerwood facility, including literature review to examine the health impacts brought upon regions that already have established CAFOs. We recommend in doing this review WDNR approach the subject of human health through the lens of the foreseeable event that Badgerwood LLC will set the precedent to allow multiple CAFOs to move into the region. Therefore the scope of the review should include regions with multiple established CAFOs. Based on the evidence provided by this review, we recommend the WDNR scrutinize the ability of current permitting to offer protections against the spread of pathogens and contamination of drinking water supplies. We request the WDNR further the investigation to include a review of the potential financial impacts to our community in terms of costs for additional health care and of developing infrastructure to mitigate the threats to health brought to us by the Badgerwood CAFO and the industry that threatens to follow in its wake.
Human Health: Issues for CAFO Workers
Issue to be Examined: Employees of CAFOs suffer medical conditions as a direct result from toxic work environments. Our community values each community member’s quality of life. We cannot support an industry that fails to prioritize the health and wellness of its employees. Supporting Documentation: Extensive occupational health studies since 1977 have documented acute and chronic respiratory diseases among CAFO workers, especially swine and poultry workers. CAFO workers commonly complain of sinusitis; acute and chronic bronchitis; inflamed mucus membranes and irritation of the nose and throat; headaches; and muscle aches and pains. CAFO workers also often experience asthma and acute and progressive decline in lung function (Cole et al. 2000. Concentrated swine feeding operations and public health: a review of occupational and community health effects. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1638284/).
Recommendation: The EIS should address any potential impacts of the operation on workers’ health. We recommend the WDNR require Badgerwood LLC to develop and publically present a comprehensive plan that ensures they will monitor for the health and wellness of their employees. The plan should include measureable indicators of a healthy work environment, and the plan needs to include strategies that ensure accountability if Badgerwood fails to meet standards for health.
Impacts from the Overuse of Antibiotics
Issue to be Examined: Livestock feed uses antibiotics that pass through animals and enter the environment.
Supporting Documentation: According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, nearly 80 percent of antibiotics in the United States are sold for use in livestock feeds ( http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2013/casey-schwartz-mrsa.html). Little research has been done to understand how antibiotics persist in and interact with their environment after passing through an animal. Animals discharge in their feces and urine between 70%–90% of the antibiotic administrated unchanged or in active metabolites (Potential of Biological Processes to Eliminate Antibiotics in Livestock Manure: An Overview, Animals, 2014, Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/EPA%201/Downloads/animals-04-00146.pdf). Further, antibiotic use by industrial producers is self-regulated, and veterinarians need not be on hand to track use, make recommendations, or even to write prescriptions. Considering the possible consequences to human health (as well as the potential for cascading effects through watersheds and ecosystems), the use of antibiotics without more preliminary research and without systematic regulation is both irresponsible and unjustified.
The prevalence of antibiotic use, especially at sub-therapeutic levels, in combination with conditions conducive to the spread of disease (high concentrations of animals, high concentrations of manure, odors that draw pests) creates ripe conditions for the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bacteria that cannot be treated by antibiotics can have very serious effects on human health, potentially even causing death (Pew Commission on Industrial Animal Farm Production. (2009). Putting meat on the table: Industrial farm animal production in America. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf).
The trend of using antibiotics in feed has increased with the greater numbers of animals held in confinement. The more animals that are kept in close quarters, the more likely it is that infection or bacteria can spread among the animals. Nearly half of the antibiotics used are essentially identical to the ones given to humans. There is strong evidence that the use of antibiotics in animal feed is contributing to an increase in antibiotic-resistant microbes and causing antibiotics to be less effective for humans (Kaufman, M. 2000. Worries rise over effect of antibiotics in animal feed; Humans seen vulnerable to drug-resistant germs (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf).
We also recommend that the EIS evaluate the capacity of current permitting to protect for public health and safety in light of emerging evidence that use of antibiotics in industrial meat production can lead to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
We request that EIS inform a full literature review of the most current research regarding the fate of antibiotics when released into ecosystems, such as effects on water quality, individual organisms, community composition, population dynamics, or ecosystem function.
Degrading antibiotics discharged in the livestock manure in a well-controlled bioprocess contributes to a more sustainable and environment-friendly livestock breeding. Although most antibiotics remain stable during manure storage, anaerobic digestion can degrade and remove them to various extents depending on the concentration and class of antibiotic, bioreactor operating conditions, type of feedstock and inoculum sources (Potential of Biological Processes to Eliminate Antibiotics in Livestock Manure: An Overview, Animals, 2014, Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/EPA%201/Downloads/animals-04-00146.pdf). We recommend WDNR investigate the benefits of requiring Badgerwood to treat all their manure with an anaerobic digester to help reduce active antibiotic levels before releasing the manure onto lands and into waterways.
Issue to be Examined: Property values are affected by nearby CAFOs. 35
At a public meeting held by the Bayfield County Board on February 18,
2015, Gene Noem, self-identified representative of Badgerwood LLC, said that Badgerwood
LLC would not employ the use of antibiotics as growth stimulants. This runs counter to current
industry standards, and should be verified by an EIS.
Supporting Documentation: Rural non-farm families tend to have a majority of their wealth in their home and property. A downwind home will realize a significantly larger decline in value relative to a home upwind that is the same distance from the CAFO (Herriges, Secchi, and Babcock, http://animalagteam.msu.edu/uploads/files/20/Economic.pdf, 2005.). Most of these landowners fear that when CAFOs move into their community their property values will drop significantly. There is evidence that CAFOs do affect property values. The reasons for this are many: the fear of loss of amenities, the risk of air or water pollution, and the increased possibility of nuisances related to odors and insects. CAFOs are typically viewed as a negative externality that can’t be solved or cured. There may be stigma that is attached to living by a CAFO.
One study shows that property value declines can range from a decrease of 6.6% within a 3-mile radius of a CAFO to an 88% decrease within 1/10 of a mile from a CAFO (Dakota Rural Action, 2006; http://dakotarural.org//issues/livestorck/cafos/) The EIS should determine the amount of additional loading (e.g., nutrients, trace metals) to the Bay as a result of the proposed project, where in the Bay the constituent of concern are likely to move to and accumulate, and the impact of increased pollutant loadings on existing wild rice stands. ). The size and type of the feeding operation can affect property value as well. Decreases in property values can also cause property tax rates to drop, which can place stress on local government budgets.
In addition to driving down property values, CAFOs often drive up agricultural land rents
substantially. This can be devastating to the local small-scale farms that depend on renting these lands. An inability to rent the required lands for their operations threatens their livelihood.
Recommendation: The EIS needs to quantify the impacts of decreased property values and how this decrease might affect the budget of the Town of Eileen and neighboring communities as well as the economic well-being of Bayfield County. In addition, the EIS should examine the impact of the anticipated increase in agricultural land rents as a result of the project ant the impact to the livelihoods and financial stability of local small scale farmers.
Drinking Water Supplies
Issue to be Examined: Municipal drinking water sources are being contaminated by CAFO operations across the country. In some instances, the water is determined to be completely unsafe for drinking, causing chaotic and expensive living conditions for households, businesses, governments, and others.
Supporting Documentation: Iowa’s waterways already have some of the highest nitrate levels in the country (http://archive.onearth.org/articles/2014/02/factory-farms-are-poisoning-iowa- water) with agricultural runoff as the prime source. In January 2015, two rivers that supply Des Moines with drinking water reached nitrate levels deemed dangerous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The city’s utility commission may sue the state of Iowa for violating the Clean Water Act (http://www.onearth.org/earthwire/first-step-admitting-you-have-problem) by failing to set farm and sewage pollution limits.
The Badgerwood CAFO is proposed to be located in the Fish Creek watershed, which drains directly into Chequamegon Bay where the City of Ashland gets its drinking water from a pipe in the lake. City administrators are deeply concerned about the implications of this CAFO as a potential source of contaminants. Mayor Debra Lewis and the City Council wrote a resolution and letter of support for the Bayfield County Boards’ moratorium in 2015. The mayor also wrote a council-supported letter to the WDNR requesting that an EIS be conducted.
In addition, the project’s potential effects on groundwater quality and quantity, as discussed elsewhere in this letter, would impact the drinking water of local residents who rely on wells.
Recommentation: The EIS should address how the network of the wells of local residents and Ashland’s drinking water supply are going to be protected from similar nitrate, phosphorous, and other nutrient runoff by ensuring the nutrient management plan eliminates or minimizes runoff into waterways that drain into Fish Creek and Chequamegon Bay.
Issue to be Examined: Badgerwood Inc.’s application does not identify archaeological resources.
Supporting Documentation: Qualified investigators are required to make a reasonable effort to identify historic properties in the ceded territories that will more than likely be directly or indirectly affected by the overall proposed action. Indirect effects would include downstream impacts to fisheries, including Lake Superior. Waterways are original Native American trails used to connect tribal people to villages, sacred sites, cemeteries and hunting, fishing, and gathering areas.
Recommendation: The Bad River Tribal Historic Preservation Office recommends that the EIS make every reasonable effort to determine the extent of impact the overall project will have on historic properties and the culture of the Ojibwe people, which can only be determined by Ojibwe people, and best determined through proper consultation with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.
Issue to be Examined: Odors from waste are carried away from farm areas on dust and other air particles. Depending on things like weather conditions and farming techniques, CAFO odors can be smelled from as much as 5 or 6 miles away, although 3 miles is a more common distance (State Environmental Resource Center. 2004. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/docs/understanding_cafos_nalboh.pdf).
CAFO odors can necessitate substantial lifestyle changes for individuals in the surrounding communities and can alter many daily activities. When odors are severe, people may choose to keep their windows closed, even in high temperatures when there is no air conditioning. People also may choose to not let their children play outside and may even keep them home from school. Mental health deterioration and an increased sensitization to smells can also result from living in close proximity to odors from CAFOs. Odor can cause negative mood states, such as tension, depression, or anger, and possibly neurophysciatric abnormalities, such as impaired balance or memory (see citation above). People who live close to factory farms can develop CAFO-related post-traumatic stress disorder including anxiety about declining quality of life (Donham et al., 2007. http://ir.uiowa.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1022&context=oeh_pubs).
Supporting Documentation: Odors and gases emitted from these facilities have drastically altered the quality of life in neighboring communities. Odors and gases emanating from swine “factories” have yet to be regulated or controlled in Oklahoma; thus, residents living downwind from these facilities have no recourse for altering their malodorous living conditions. (http://www.colorado.edu/economics/morey/8545/student/caforegs/ControllingOdor.pdf).
The results indicated that people who live near hog operations and experience the odor plumes reported significantly more tension, depression, anger, fatigue and confusion than the control subjects. In addition, the experimental group reported an overall feeling of less vigor. The mood states of people exposed to malodors is important because mood has been found to play a role in the immune status of an individual, contributing to subsequent disease outcomes.
Gene Noem, a representative of Reicks View Farms, said at a public meeting on February 18, 2015, held by the Bayfield County Board that his company is testing a new air filtering technology introduced from Europe to control odors. He said at the meeting that his company is “working with the state to test this technology.” Comments about this new technology can be heard on a recording posted on the County’s web site at approximately 8 minutes into the recording: http://www.bayfieldcounty.org/mediacenter.aspx?VID=23).
Noem was interviewed in a newspaper about this new technology: “We are adapting new technologies for controlling odor... The new technology we are talking about is called air scrubbing. It’s new to the U.S., but it is not new to the world. Dale Reicks saw it in Europe and has been trialing at our home farm. It involves water as it leaves the building passing through a filter... we are using it at the exit point and it removes particulate matter—one of the big contributors to livestock odor” (http://www.apg-wi.com/ashland_daily_press/news/a-q-a-with- reicks-view-farms-representatives/article_5b95dc9a-0f00-59e3-a05a-3c6010caa37b.html).
Recommendation: The EIS should investigate whether alternative methods of odor control are sufficient, what success Reicks View Farms has had with controlling odors at its “tests”, and what they will do to control odor if this new technology does not work.
The EIS also needs to quantify how much water the alternate system uses.
Cumulative Effects and Climate Change
Issue to be Examined: The world’s increasing appetite for animal food products of all kinds— pork, dairy, beef, poultry, and eggs—is also placing unsustainable pressures on the planet’s ecosystems. The Earth’s atmosphere is literally heating up, and waterways and fisheries are being deluged as a result of the prolific waste output of the world’s food producing animals. According to an oft-cited 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, the livestock sector alone accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, a larger share than all of the world’s transportation emissions combined.