PRESTON (AP) -- A Fillmore County judge ruled against the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Friday and ordered further study of a large dairy farm proposed for an environmentally sensitive area.
In a 30-page ruling, Judge Robert Benson ordered the MPCA to conduct extensive testing of the Reiland family farm site before construction can commence.
In May, the MPCA voted at a heated public hearing to approve a proposed 7.3 million gallon manure lagoon for a 500-cow dairy farm without requiring an environmental impact statement. MPCA staff said strict construction and operating requirements would greatly minimize any risk of a disaster.
The decision prompted members of the Land Stewardship Project to sue on the grounds the agency failed to follow its own waste policy designed for southeastern Minnesota's sensitive "karst" geology. Caves and sinkholes are common in the area of porous limestone, and groundwater flows quickly to springs that feed a popular trout stream.
Plaintiff Jan Poldevard, whose farm sits less than a mile from the site, said Friday's ruling will save her groundwater from further contamination.
"This is so great," Poldevard said. "It's like someone has finally heard us and understands."
The MPCA has 60 days to appeal the judge's decision. A spokesperson for the agency said the situation will be evaluated this week.
The plaintiffs' lawyer, Jim Peters, said the MPCA is unlikely to prevail f it appeals.
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