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Environmental review of Riverview's proposed Grace Dairy in Chippewa County open for public comment

Riverview LLP is proposing to construct another large dairy along the Minnesota Highway 40 corridor west of Willmar. An environmental review for the project in Grace Township of Chippewa County is available for public review and comment.

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Riverview, LLP proposes to build a 10,500-head dairy farm in Section 23 of Grace Township, Chippewa County. West Central Tribune file photo

GRACE TOWNSHIP — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Tuesday released for public review the draft permit and environmental assessment worksheet, including estimated greenhouse gas emissions for a proposed dairy in Chippewa County.

Riverview LLP proposes to build a 10,500-head dairy farm in Section 23 of Grace Township, Chippewa County (in the vicinity of the intersection shown in the map below). About 23 miles west of Willmar on the south side of Minnesota Highway 40, Grace Dairy will house Jersey cows in a total confinement, free-stall barn. Clay-lined basins, with impermeable covers, will collect and store liquid manure and wastewater.

It will be the sixth Riverview Dairy operation located along the Highway 40 corridor west of Willmar.

Following an MPCA-approved manure management plan, the manure will be removed from the basins and injected into cropland as fertilizer in the fall. The dairy farm needs approximately 7,300 acres of cropland to apply the 85 million gallons of manure generated annually. More than 12,000 acres of cropland are available.

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According to the MPCA news release, Riverview has applied to the Department of Natural Resources for a permit to withdraw up to 120 million gallons per year of groundwater. Long-term monitoring of the source aquifer will be required as a condition of an issued permit.

State agencies use the environmental assessment worksheet to help decide whether a more thorough environmental impact statement is needed. The environmental assessment worksheet covers site location details, nearby resources and other elements, including wells, soil types, water use, manure management, air and odor emissions, and traffic.

The MPCA now uses greenhouse gas emissions inventories in feedlot environmental reviews. The MPCA estimates that about 76,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent will produced annually from the dairy. These emissions may be offset, in part, by planting more alfalfa and other cover crops, which sequester the gases.

The public may submit written comments on the Grace Dairy environmental assessment worksheet until 4:30 p.m. April 29, 2021. A National Pollutant Disposal Elimination System permit for construction and operation of the dairy farm is scheduled to be on public notice concurrently.

The environmental assessment worksheet for this project is available on the MPCA website at pca.state.mn.us and search for “environmental assessment worksheets.”

It’s also available by calling Jenna Ness at 651-757-2276 , or sending written comments to her at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road N., St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.

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