A Devils Lake resident asks: Do we want to put our environment at risk?

On 6/30/17 the North Dakota Department of Health received an application from Tayler Aasmundstad, Grand Prairie Agriculture, LLP, for a North Dakota pollutant discharge elimination system permit for a CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) to be located in the SE quarter of Section 24 of Pelican Township in Ramsey County.  

That area is approximately 1.5 miles north of the Graham’s Island State Park turn-off on Highway 19, approximately 3 miles northwest of the Six Mile Bay campground, approximately 3 miles straight west of Scoobie’s Point, Sunny Hills subdivision and Kenner’s campground and less than 10 miles west-northwest of the city of Devils Lake.  

The CAFO permit is written for 1,928 sows, 504 gilts and 242 nursery pigs. The projected amount of piglets from these sows would be about 44,344 annually.  There would be a holding pit under the barns to hold manure which would then be injected into local fields.  Mortality rate for CAFO hog farms is 6-10 percent and these bodies along with the placentas will be composted on site.  

If the operation is permitted, it may expand its permitted capacity by 25 percent without triggering a higher setback distance.

I have concerns regarding the site of the hog farm being so close to the lake and residences and asked the health department if they would do an onsite evaluation.  They said they would mention it to their boss. I have asked for a public meeting or hearing so people of the community can attend and voice their opinions/concerns.

The North Dakota Century Code states that if “a significant degree of public interest exists” then the department will hold a meeting.  I have spoken with several different people at the health department over the past week who have said:

1) Call either Karl Rockeman at 701-328-5210 or Marty Haroldson at 701-328-5210 and request a meeting or
2) Put in a formal request in writing and send it to either Karl Rockeman or Marty Haroldson at North Dakota Department of Health, Environmental Health Section, 600 East Boulevard Avenue, Bismarck, ND 58505-0200.  

I have done both. I ask that you do one or the other.  I’m sorry but I could find no 1-800 numbers for the health department.

This will be the only time the department of health will have to listen to our concerns/opinions before deciding whether to grant the permit or not.  We need to have a voice whether pro or con.  Right now we have a beautiful lake with record perch, walleye, northern and endless recreational potential.  We have clean air.  Do we want to put our environment at risk?

Editor’s note: The review of this type of permit application often takes 30 days, according to Karl Rockeman from the NDDoH.