Public hearing held Tuesday night
Ask most people and they will tell you that they don’t care to live near a hog farm. A few outraged Potwin residents shared many of their reasons against a proposed hog feeding facility to be located less than 2 miles north of the city, at a public meeting Tuesday night.
The Times-Gazette received an email on Monday signed by “Concerned Citizens of Potwin and the surrounding area”. The message stated that the applicant, Henry Creek Farm, Inc., Olin, Doug and Jerrol K. Claassen, owns 39 parcels of land and over 5,400 acres, and just built a swine facility this past spring two miles northeast of the recently proposed site.
The letter further explained that neighbors have been complaining about the odor from the current facility.
That odor affects the local elementary school on the northern edge of Potwin. Parents have voiced concerns about their children being forced to smell the obnoxious odor.
In addition to the odors, residents are obviously concerned about property values being lowered.
A public hearing was held Tuesday evening at the Potwin Community House with a Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) representative. The public hearing, in conformance with state laws, was concerning the Kansas Water Pollution Control Permit for the swine facility.
The permit outlined that the operation and construction of a confined feeding facility for 1,807 head of swine and would consist of two enclosed confinement buildings.
Hog farms can generate a lot of revenue for the owners, but they also produce massive quantities of waste. According to the Journal of Water & Health, unlike human biosolids, which must meet regulatory standards for pathogen levels, vector attraction reduction and metal content, no such standards are required for confined food-animal operations waste. Studies have linked exposure to hog farm emissions, such as ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, to symptoms including increased stress, anxiety, fatigue, mucous membrane irritation, respiratory conditions, reduced lung function and elevated blood pressure.
Hog waste can contaminate ground and surface water reserves through runoff, leaching and rupturing of storage facilities. High quantities of nitrates and phosphates, from both animal waste and fertilizers used to grow feed, can also contaminate rivers and streams.
Bacteria and residual antibiotics present in hog waste have the potential to cause acute illness and infection, as well as antibiotic resistance. Rural communities are especially vulnerable to water contamination because many rely on private well water, which is not regulated by government agencies.
The KDHE will be reviewing the public comments from Tuesday's meeting and will decide whether to allow the new hog farm to be built. There is no deadline on when that decision will be made.