By RUSTY EBERT
---- — KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved renewing a construction evaluation resolution (master matrix) for livestock confinements during the board’s regular meeting Monday.
Confinements in counties that file the resolutions must meet higher standards than other permitted sites. They must earn points on the master matrix by choosing a site and using practices that reduce impacts on the environment and the community.
Counties that participate in the master matrix process may send staff to accompany the DNR on site visits to proposed locations. The county board of supervisors may also appeal the DNR’s preliminary approval of a permit to the Environmental Protection Commission.
“The reason we support continuing the master matrix is that it does provide people living in areas a little more protection from large confinements coming into their neighborhoods. It allows supervisors to have input on the siting process,” said Lora Conrad.
She also said, “it also makes sure the law is being met.”
Conrad explained that due to budget cuts, there is far less staff to cover the inspection process.
“Their people have been making more errors as a result,” Conrad said.
She pointed out that 88 counties support the master matrix process.
Supervisor Bob Waugh voiced his support.
“I agree with Lora about the errors, in that our last application we did find some discrepancies. They still met the scoring. It was a minor item that was corrected,” Waugh said.
Seven residents were at the hearing.
According to an Iowa DNR press release, “Adopting a construction evaluation resolution and properly using the master matrix process is the primary method counties have to work with livestock producers on proposed confinement operations,” said Gene Tinker, coordinator of the DNR animal feeding section. “County supervisors or staff have the opportunity to review master matrix applications to determine if the site characteristics and management practices selected are appropriate to receive points needed for a passing score.”
Most confinement feeding operations that need to apply for a permit are subject to the matrix.