March 22, 2015
Ms. Julianne Socha
Animal Feeding Operations
US EPA Region 5
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604
VIA US MAIL and ELECTRONIC MAIL
With this letter I formally request that pursuant to 40 CFR § 123.44, the EPA review and potentially object to the draft Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit for Reicks View Farms DBA Badgerwood LLC. Reicks has proposed a 26,000 hog concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) in the Township of Eileen, Wisconsin, within the Fish Creek Watershed.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has not issued the draft WPDES permit for the proposed Badgerwood CAFO as of the date of this letter. However, our community is already aware of numerous factors that justify EPA’s review of this permit and it seems essential to engage EPA and outline these factors in a prompt manner.
• The location of the proposed CAFO is in close proximity to the Ashland Municipal Water Utility.
The Ashland Municipal Water Utility, tasked with providing clean drinking water to City of Ashland residents, is 3 nautical miles from the junction of Fish Creek and Lake Superior. Badgerwood’s proposed CAFO would be near a drinking water intake and as such the EPA should review the draft WPDES permit once issued by DNR and object to said permit if necessary.
• The proposed CAFO would be sited within the Lake Superior Basin.
According to DNR’s Wisconsin Watershed Search tool, Fish Creek Watershed is within the Lake Superior Water Management Unit and Major Drainage System. See http://dnr.wi.gov/water/watershedSearch.aspx. The location of the proposed CAFO within a Great Lakes Basin justifies EPA taking a hard look at Badgerwood’s draft WPDES permit.
• The proposed CAFO would impact impaired waters.
A list of impaired waters within the Fish Creek Watershed is available at http://dnr.wi.gov/water/watershedImpaired.aspx?code=LS08. These impaired waters include Chequamegon Bay as well as two Lake Superior Beaches that were just delisted in 2012 for E. Coli pollution.
Given the quantity of manure that the proposed CAFO will produce and the self-regulating nature of Wisconsin’s CAFO industry, it's likely that Fish Creek, the Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior will see increased nutrients, pathogens and agricultural run-off in the water. These potential increases in impaired waters warrant EPA review of the draft Badgerwood WPDES permit.
• Environmental justice concerns arise from the proposed location of the Badgerwood CAFO.
Members of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa have already expressed concern that the Badgerwood CAFO “would threaten their rights to hunt, fish and gather.” See http://www.businessnorth.com/kuws.asp. Bayfield County has never been home to a CAFO, and as a result local and state governments have not analyzed the environmental justice concerns that such a facility could cause for area tribes. Environmental justice concerns should factor heavily into EPA’s decision regarding whether to review and/or object to Badgerwood’s draft WPDES permit.
• Reicks has been subject to enforcement action(s) in Iowa.
As of the writing of this letter, Reicks View Farms does not operate any CAFOs in Wisconsin. However, a cursory search shows that Reicks entered into a 2009 consent order with the Iowa DNR due to “wastewater violations at [a] . . . holding tank site.” See http://www.iowaagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=594&yr=2009. Reicks’ representatives have already commented to Wisconsin media that the company will “continue” to operate responsibly in Wisconsin as it does in Iowa. Reicks should not portray itself as a potential steward of the unique resources of the Lake Superior Basin without scrutiny from DNR as well as EPA.
For the aforementioned reasons we respectfully request that EPA review the proposed Badgerwood LLC WPDES permit once issued and object to said permit if necessary.
Farms Not Factories
cc: Cheryl Burdett