Siting restrictions and proximity of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations to surface water

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4 Scopus citations


Proximity and connections to surface waters may play significant roles in determining impacts of manure spills. As occurred in many U.S. states, Minnesota adopted in 2000 more stringent regulations on Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) including restrictions on siting new facilities near surface waters. The objectives of this study were to determine whether CAFO proximity to surface waters decreased following the siting restrictions and to evaluate implications of siting restrictions. Permit dates, locations, and distances to nearest surface water bodies for 111 west central Minnesota CAFOs were determined based on satellite imagery, historical records, and correspondence with regulatory officials. Average distance between surface waters and facilities permitted after 2000 was greater than for facilities permitted before 2000. The increase in average distance between CAFOs and public surface waters was significant for open water (1790. m, p=0.03), but not for streams (280. m, p=0.47). Decreased CAFO proximity to surface waters should benefit water quality, but after 2000 facilities continued to be permitted close to hydraulic connections not covered by the siting restriction. Comprehensive manure spill tracking and long term targeted water quality monitoring are needed to evaluate effectiveness of siting restrictions and other strategies for protecting surface waters from manure spills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-253
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Apr 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author thanks Michael Sharpe, Jerry Holien, Lenny Richards, and Jane Onorati of the MPCA, and research assistants Sienna Nesser and Andreana Saunders for their contributions. Three anonymous reviewers provided constructive comments that assisted in contextualizing and focusing the article. Funding for this project was provided by the University of Minnesota Center for Urban and Regional Affairs .


  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
  • Manure spills
  • Siting restrictions
  • Surface water quality


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