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Mega Dairy Planned Near Watertown Faces Opposition

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JENIFER JONES
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A proposed 49-hundred head dairy near Watertown is facing opposition. There are multiple issues surrounding the proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. 
 

Greg Richter is a member of Citizens Against Waverly Dairy, and lives near the site of the proposed operation. He says a dairy of this size shouldn’t be located within a mile of existing houses. He says students travel along the designated haul road to get to school, and use it for cross country practice. Plus, he says, there are environmental issues.
 
“The site is on an 80 acre plot, that on the south and southwest side has a 43 foot drop in 660 feet that, both draws go directly into literally a gulch that would slingshot any runoff that got past that dairy into Willow Creek and thus into the Sioux River,” Richter says.
 
Opponents also say dairies of this size hurt smaller farms, decrease property values, and contaminate the air. Laura Krebsbach is with the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. 
 
“It’s happening all across the country,” Krebsbach says. “And it’s damaging lives, it’s damaging health, it’s damaging water. And we really have to stop and say ‘what do we want our countryside to look like? What do we want our health to look like?’”
 
But supporters say projects like this are good for the economy. South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture Lucas Lentsch says officials with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources work with operators to create safe facilities.
 
“They have contingency plans, they’re designed for the long term, and they’re inspected,” Lentsch says. “And that’s a big part of what makes a quality program happen in the state of South Dakota is not only in the design, but also in the inspection process.”
 
Codington County Officials have granted project leaders a conditional use permit. Citizens Against Waverly Dairy is suing the county.