Groundwater Irrigation Regulatory/Planning Assistance
Groundwater Irrigation Regulatory/Planning Assistance

Location:  Park Rapids, Minnesota
Client:  R.D. Offutt Company

Background

On November 15, 2015, the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) received a citizen’s petition asking for an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) on five pending permit applications by R.D. Offutt Company (RDO). This petition alleged the permits would allow negative environmental impacts on the surrounding area, specifically in terms of water quality. It further claimed these impacts would affect the citizens’ ability to hunt, fish, and recreate according to their existing rights. 

RDO retained HEI to help prepare a response to this petition.

The Project

In addition to providing regulatory assistance, HEI also oversaw the technical services used to address the potential environmental impacts and determine the need for an EAW.

To accurately decide whether an EAW was necessary, the Minnesota DNR (MnDNR) had to determine if the proposed permits complied with MN Rules Chapter 4410.1700 subpart 7. To do so, MnDNR completed several studies to determine the accuracy of the petition’s allegations. 

Because the studies concluded that the farming operation could not have a significant environmental impact on the 1000-square-mile aquifer or land area, an EAW was not required. 

Our team then worked in close collaboration with the MnDNR and RDO to determine the most effective way to communicate this decision with the petitioners. 
In December 2015, a technical memorandum was sent to address the allegations put forth by the petition.

This memorandum described the best management practices (BMPs) RDO uses in its farming operations and evaluates the farm fields with pending permit applications for potential significant environmental impacts. 

In January 2016, an additional memorandum was distributed to provide more information on RDO’s farming techniques and the use of groundwater within the Pineland Sands Aquifer.

HEI carefully supported RDO with multi-stakeholder coordination and communication throughout the EAW decision process.