Citizen Petition to Prepare an EAW for R.D. Offutt for Continued Potato Field Expansion
The DNR is concerned about the sustainability of land use conversion and associated water appropriations within the Pineland Sands Aquifer Area. This concern has manifested itself in additional deliberation over new water appropriation permit applications in the area and several funding requests to further investigate potential environmental risks of converting forests or naturally vegetated areas to irrigated agriculture.
In May 2018, the DNR received a petition for an EAW on R.D. Offutt Company's continued potato field expansions using water appropriations, forest-to-field conversions and chemical applications in and around the Pineland Sands Area. The DNR reviewed the petition and, as required by Minnesota Statute, notified the R.D. Offutt Company that an EAW would be required for the pending water appropriation permit applications. The main reason for ordering the EAW was the cumulative potential effect of increased nitrate contamination of groundwater.
In response to this notification the R.D. Offutt Company withdrew three new water appropriation permit applications they submitted to allow irrigation of land that had recently been converted from forest or natural vegetation. The only remaining R.D. Offutt Company water appropriation permit applications that would be subject to the petition were four amendments that requested low volumes of additional water to establish cover crops on existing fields.
After consideration of the petition and the scope of the R.D. Offutt Company project, the DNR decided to deny the petition for the EAW. The reason for the denial was the limited potential for contribution to cumulative nitrate contamination of groundwater from the proposed use of water for cover crop.