enough is enough…
To the Editor,
Last week I attended a meeting of the Fillmore County Planning and Zoning Commission. The public had been invited to attend and the meeting room was filled to overflowing. Prior to the meeting, I had sent a written comment to the commissioners and I was among those who made oral comments at the meeting.
Concerns of several speakers included comments about the level of nitrate nitrogen in private wells in Fillmore County. Minnesota Department of Agriculture reports show that many private wells in the county already are contaminated with dangerous levels of nitrate. (www.mda.state.mn.us/sites/default/files/2019-10/fillmorefinalttnreport_0.pdf) Unfortunately, the results of nitrate contamination reported in the well samples is likely an underestimate, perhaps seriously so, because the investigators chose to exclude over 400 samples (28% of samples from their survey) from poorly constructed or damaged wells, or wells close to known point-source sites (including feedlots) of nitrogen contamination. Significant numbers of Fillmore County residents are drinking dangerously contaminated well water. The cited report notes that there are 1592 feedlots in Fillmore County, 899 of which are active. The average number of Animal Units permitted per feedlot is 174, for a total of 120,918 permitted Animal Units.
The sheer magnitude of this agricultural activity in Fillmore County clearly justifies additional consideration from the public. Before any adjustments are made to zoning ordnances regarding caps on the number of Animal Units on new or existing feedlots, I urge the county commissioners to convene a public discussion of the issue, inviting input from the public and technical experts on farming, economics, hydrology, health and related disciplines. The existing cap of 2,000 animal units has not protected us thus far from serious environmental damage; the people deserve a thorough-going analysis before enacting any new ordinances.
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