Thursday, August 13, 2009

Could karst study kill mega dairy?

NORA, Ill.-- They've said it before, and they'll say it again. Only this time, they'll do so officially.

On Thursday, four Illinois State Geological Survey scientists published a state report that said a large-scale dairy near Nora sits atop an unstable section of land.

The technical classification, they said, is karst. This is a section of land that has cracked and formed sinkholes or caverns that allow surface contaminants to drain into the underlying aquifers that provide drinking water.

The message is not new. Ever since California dairyman A.J. Bos proposed building his facility in Nora, geologists associated with this report have said the land is karst. They testified as such at a preliminary injunction hearing last year, which pitted Bos against the nonprofit organization Helping Others Maintain Environmental Standards, or HOMES.

A Jo Daviess County judge granted the preliminary injunction, and a permanent injunction hearing is scheduled for November. This report should bolster the plaintiffs defense, said HOMES attorney David Albee.

"The data just released should put to rest any contention by developer A.J. Bos that his site is some sort of non-karst island in a sea of karst," he said. "And since the infrastructure already on the site has none of the safeguards mandated by Illinois law for facilities built on karst geology, it should never be allowed to operate."

For now, the dairy cannot operate with more than 100 cows, and Bos' dream sits idle with an estimated $15,000 daily loss.

The study is called "Identification and Characterization of Karst Terrane in Illinois' Unglaciated Region: Results of LiDAR Imagery and Ground Penetrating Radar in Jo Daviess County, Northwestern Illinois." Samuel Panno, one of the scientists publishing the report, headed the project, and the study is based on the field testing conducted by Panno on Feb. 17 and 18.

Panno and his co-workers determined in the study that the dairy "and the surrounding area overlie karstified carbonate bedrock that constitutes a karst aquifer." He went on to say that "if there were spills, leakage or a catastrophic breach in the waste lagoon's containment system, the crevice-karst network would allow the contents to rapidly enter the aquifer and create widespread contamination of groundwater and surface water as well."

While Panno testified at the preliminary injunction hearing that karst existed on site, several experts for Bos countered that opinion and said no karst was found after a team drilled to find aquifers.

Bos did not return a call from the TH.

This article was published on TH Online news site. Yes, it's about Illinois, but still a ray of hope, looking at the big picture. This is the same geography as our area in Wisconsin. So, more good news.

Sorry I haven't posted much. I will get my act together & post about last weekend at the farm soon. The kids were there & we had a lot of fun! This week I got together with a friend I haven't seen since high school. She is going in for brain surgery next week in Pittsburg. Please put your good vibes out there for her.


SkippyMom said...

I am well read and educated but everytime I read one of these posts on your blog and others' I become perplexed by the babble.

What exactly, in layman's terms, does this mean?

The land is collapsing and he is reduced to 100 cows? And this is somehow a victory?

There shouldn't be dairies? Someone should be denied their livelihood after the fact?

I am not being snarky or rude, I do love your blog, but it honestly like trying to decipher medical terms - I don't get the gist of this.


SkippyMom said...

PS not implying you are babbling - that the report excerpts sound like babble to me, my apologies.

All Natural Mama said...

I live about 25 minutes from Nora, where this proposed dairy is. It has been such a battle, ongoing for more than a year now!
I truly hope the corporate dairy is not allowed, they've had so many experts say the karst is present. I swear it's all politics and the dairy will probably be allowed no matter what. *sigh*.

All Natural Mama said...

SkippyMom, the dairy in question is run by a multi-millionnaire who currently has California dairies.
His proposed diary near us is to have more than 10,000 cows. If you don't know much about corporate farming and the risks it brings to animals and people alike there are many books you can read. Start with "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver.
This dairy is especially risky here because we live in a "driftless" area - the last ice age the glaciers didn't hit here so we have rolling hills - and the bedrock is full of caves, holes, (karst basically means holey bedrock). The dairy is proposing a HUGE manure pit. If this were to leak into the holey bedrock, you can imagine the contamination to groundwater - this means contamination (yep, poop) in our drinking water, streams, creeks, rivers.
Hope this helps you understand.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

Do I understand it correct if the ground is the same over at Your area? I hope in that case that they can´t start a CAFO near You! Great news then!

angie said...

Hi Barb,

First, strong healthy thoughts to your friend.

We drive through the community of Nora on our way to our place. I have been following this fight for a while. This is great news for them, for you, and for all of us in the driftless region.

All Natural Mama: Nicely put.

Anonymous said...

Here is hoping that at least Illinois is saved from the huge dairy farm.

SkippyMom - get on google and look these items up that you don't understand. It's really quite simple. She is not saying their shouldn't be dairies, there should not be large Commercial Dairies with 5,000 cows that make so much manure that when it rains or is just plain rain off, it sinks into the ground, travels in between the loose rocks and ruins and contaminates our drinking water. Just do a little research - it's not that hard, really. ...debbie

Barb and Steve said...

Thanks for all the replies. It is a victory if IL rules against the CAFO. Skippy's ok to question all of this. If it helps to educate everyone & make them curious enough to learn about how factory farming is destroying small farmers, it's worth it.