An environmental group is concerned that Indiana could become a dumping ground for out-of-state manure despite regulations proposed by officials.
The Indiana Environmental Rules Board will hold a hearing Wednesday on proposed new rules for satellite manure storage structures, which accept livestock waste from off-site farms, some of which could be trucked in from other states. The manure is stored in the structures until it can be used to fertilize crops.
But the Hoosier Environmental Council warns the proposed rules don't go far enough, The Indianapolis Star reported. The group cautions that Indiana could open the floodgates to millions of gallons of imported manure that could pollute drinking water and create a stench that would make life in rural towns unbearable.
Indiana already has three such storage facilities in Randolph and Henry counties that are currently unregulated. State officials say the goal is to hold them to the same standards as large confined livestock farms that handle their own waste. The proposed rule would regulate "a building, lagoon, pad, pit, pond or tank," storing at least 1 million gallons or 5,000 cubic yards of manure.
Environmentalists say the rule would allow in-ground lagoons larger than a football field, filled with smelly manure.
"The rule has no teeth," said attorney Kim Ferraro, the council's water and agriculture policy director.
The hearing on the proposed rule comes amid complaints by environmental groups that Indiana officials are encouraging large-scale livestock operations by making local opposition more difficult.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, however, says the state's regulation of such farms surpasses federal standards.
The Hoosier Environmental Council says the regulations on manure storage being proposed are lax and don't adequately address concerns about seepage or spills into drinking water.
Justin Schneider, senior policy adviser and legal counsel for the Indiana Farm Bureau, said concerns about out-of-state manure are largely unwarranted. He said the three existing facilities store manure shipped in from Indiana farms.
He also said farmers asked for the new regulations to prevent spills. "They didn't want something to happen," Schneider said. "They wanted to make sure there were standards they had to follow in construction."
The draft document says manure storage structures would have to meet standards that "minimize leaks and seepage and prevent releases or spills of manure," the Star reported.