Le Sueur County board approves Seneca spray water irrigation conditional use permit

By Jake Keohen

Montgomery Messenger

The Le Sueur County Board approved a conditional use permit for the Seneca Foods processing company of Montgomery to spray water used at the plant on some additional acres south of the community.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Brockway presented the following application: Seneca Foods Corporation (applicant), Dennis Krautkremer (owner), Montgomery, requests the county grant a CUP to allow applicant to operate a spray water irrigation facility on 80 acres located in an agricultural district in Montgomery Township. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has denied a petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW), concluding that the potential environmental effects which may result from this project are not significant.

The planning commission recommended approval of the application contingent upon MPCA approval of the modification of the current National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Conditions included the applicant shall abide by regulations set forth in the NPDES permit issued by the MPCA and the applicant shall be required to work with the current and future owners of the Vargo and Eldeen properties in regard to potential well problems.

The Seneca application for the permit has been controversial, as some neighbors in the area of the 80 acres have questioned the safety and possible long term effect the discharge may have on the soil.

Seneca representatives Paul Newman and Paul Hendrickson addressed the county board concerning monitoring of tile lines in the spray water irrigation fields and answered several questions from the commissioners.

Wendy Vargo, a neighbor in the area, encouraged the board to strive for clean water by protecting our soil and water from pollution.

Gordon Cumming, executive director of the Cannon River Watershed Partnership who was present at the meeting on another matter, also commented on the Seneca issue. He discussed testing of water in tile lines and ditches, explaining that tile will contain the water from that immediate area, while a ditch may contain runoff from other areas.

It was noted that the MPCA had announced a public comment period on modifying the permit, the period beginning July 25, 2005 and ending August 23, 2005. Comments must be submitted in writing on or before the end date to: Ms. Julianne Rantala, SP-4, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155-4194.

Commissioner Terry Hayes of Montgomery made a motion to approve the application, contingent on MPCA approval and monitoring of the fields from April 1 through November 1 if possible. The board approved the CUP on 5-0 vote.

Also at Tuesday's meeting:

• Cumming explained activities in the six-county partnership and requested help with funding. The board approved a $1,000 contribution.

• Rachel Segna, children's mental health case manager in the human services department, was granted permanent status.

• Human Services Director Sue Rynda was given approval to attend the Rural Health Outreach Conference in Washington, D. C. from August 22-26. The conference is paid 100 percent by federal grant.

• The board approved $3,000 in funding for the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, a donor-supported foundation that helps build stronger communities and businesses in 20 southern Minnesota counties. The request was made by Don Hayden of Le Center, a board member of the foundation and Carol Cerney of Owatonna, vice president/donor services and outreach .

• Sheriff Dave Gliszinski was given approval to apply for a $2,000 safety grant for alternative enforcement in the area of juvenile drinking problems.

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