No dairyWhile many are dealing with too much water on the land, plans for a massive dairy farm near Edgeley, N.D., have been derailed because there isn’t enough water in the ground, according to Ralph Friebel, president of Frontier Dairy.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
While many are dealing with too much water on the land, plans for a massive dairy farm near Edgeley, N.D., have been derailed because there isn’t enough water in the ground, according to Ralph Friebel, president of Frontier Dairy.
“We drilled a production well and monitored 30 wells in the area,” Friebel said. “It resulted in a finding of not enough water.”
Friebel said the drilling and testing took place over a number of days and was done under the supervision of the North Dakota Water Commission. The testing included pumping 800 gallons per minute from the primary well and monitoring the levels in the other wells.
Royce Cline, hydrologist manager for the North Dakota Water Commission, said the testing revealed problems.
“We didn’t see anything like the quantity of water they need,” he said.
“We could have tried again further east but that was too far for our chosen location,” Friebel said. “Unless something changes with the water situation we have no place to go in Edgeley.”
The project would have concentrated 10,000 milk cows along with 2,000 dry cows and 16,000 replacement heifers on a 320-acre parcel within Wano Township just northeast of Edgeley. The dairy was anticipated to use about 1 million gallons of water per day.
The Edgeley Economic Development Corporation supported the project.
“From the development corporation standpoint we’re disappointed we couldn’t get it done,” said Joe Neis, treasurer of the organization. “From the community standpoint there are probably some mixed feelings.”
A public meeting in March 2010 drew concerns about road traffic, possible odors and immigrant labor.
Neis said the development corporation had made loans to Frontier Dairy for the engineering, planning and test well efforts done on the project. He declined to comment on the amount of the loans but said repayment agreements are in place.
The Edgeley Economic Development Corporation is a private non-profit corporation and does not receive tax money.
In addition the dairy had received a $75,000 grant from the Agricultural Products Utilization Committee to use during the permitting and licensing process.
“We spent a lot of time locating the farm with the help of the water commission,” Neis said. “That’s what is frustrating.”
The late withdrawal of the project has raised other concerns.
“When they first started they were looking for seed money,” said Sandra Rupp, a Wano Township supervisor. “It is disturbing that we have educated people, including people who sit on the development board, who beat the drum for this project before we even determined if it is feasible. Those are economic development dollars removed from the community.”
For Friebel, the planning starts over in other communities that were all part of the master multi-farm dairy operation.
“Right now we’re looking at the Underwood and Harvey areas,” he said. “The Harvey area has a large aquifer that’s been well researched and the Underwood project could draw water from the Missouri River.”
During a July 2010 interview Friebel projected the earliest the Edgeley project could have started construction was summer 2011. The change in location pushes the project back.
“We’re starting the permitting process over,” he said. “It pushes back the timeline at least a year but we’re not stopping. Just moving forward in other spots.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at (701) 952-8452 or by e-mail at email@example.com