Local residents, Sierra Club, and our allies working to protect a headwater stream in the beautiful Apple River watershed from being converted to a manure storage lagoon have won a major victory with Illinois EPA's denial of an essential permit for the project.
A California company had proposed destroying approximately 300 feet of a tributary to the South Fork of Apple Creek to replace it with a waste storage and detention ponds for a proposed 5,500 cow dairy operation, which would be the largest in Illinois. The stream is upstream of the Apple River, including the excellent fishery at Apple River Canyon State Park.
Neighbors have long been concerned about air and water pollution from the industrial dairy. Last October, concerned citizens living close to the megadairy noticed that the previously clear tributary to the Apple River was suddenly dark purple. Representatives of both the Illinois EPA and the US EPA, as well as the Jo Daviess Sheriff's department and the Jo Daviess Hazmat team were called to the site to evaluate the contaminants flooding into the stream.
After the discovery of the pollution, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan brought suit against the company for violations of Illinois water quality standards. The US Environmental Protection Agency has also scrutinized the facility, and Governor Pat Quinn has toured the region and expressed his concern about the megadairy.
In 2010, the Sierra Club, working with our allies, filed detailed comments urging Illinois EPA to deny permission to destroy the stretch of the stream. We are very pleased to see Illinois EPA taking this strong action to protect a unique state aquatic resource and the quality of life for residents of Jo Daviess County. Among the reasons cited by Illinois EPA in denying the permit were:
- Failure to demonstrate that the proposed activity would not cause violations of the applicable water quality standards
- Inadequate rationale for the need to lower water quality of the receiving stream, which would occur due to the placement of the fill material
- Inadequate explanation as to why impact to the South Fork of the Apple River cannot be avoided
- Inadequate information on the characterization of the receiving stream that is to be filled
- Failure to demonstrate that the proposed activity would not result in water pollution, based on the geology and hydrology of the site
For more information on the efforts of the concerned citizens of the area to protect their community from this pollution see www.StopTheMegaDairy.org.