The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality seeks public comment through Sept. 1 on a draft water-reuse permit renewal for Eagle Farms Inc., which does business as Eagle Eye Produce.
The draft permit renewal authorizes Eagle Farms, which washes and packages potatoes, to continue operating the wastewater treatment facility and reuse system for another five years. It allows recycled water to be used to irrigate agricultural fields during growing and non-growing seasons.
As part of the permitting process, Eagle Farms must show how it will address public health and environmental concerns, including methods of preventing surface water and ground water contamination, IDEQ said in a news release. The draft permit specifies buffer zones around the irrigation site, hydraulic and nutrient loading rates, operating practices, and monitoring requirements established by the department to protect public health and the environment.
Eagle Farms operates a potato washing and packaging facility on 30 acres on East Lincoln Road between Idaho Falls and Iona. The company acquired it from J.R. Simplot Co. in 2002. The once-rural facility is surrounded by residential neighborhoods and an elementary school. Irrigation fields and water-reuse irrigation systems, for alfalfa hay, are in a small area on the south end of the property.
Eagle Farms applies potato wash water throughout the year on 5.2 acres of cropland. The facility on average has applied about 6.9 million gallons of wastewater annually under the current water-reuse permit, an IDEQ staff analysis said.
The staff analysis said a mid-2017 review of the previous four annual reports on the water-reuse permit found Eagle Farms was out of compliance with monitoring and loading requirements as well as multiple conditions of the permit. The 2017 review found the facility, now in its third permit cycle, had made substantial improvements to the reuse system but that issues remained.
IDEQ staff recommends re-permitting Eagle Farms for five years with conditions such as including monitoring well network analysis as a compliance activity and defining the nitrogen loading limit as 1.5 times typical crop uptake. Some monitoring requirements for recycled water, ground water and soils would be changed to reflect earlier progress and ongoing needs.
Comments can be sent to Andrew John, IDEQ State Office Technical Services Division, by mail at 1410 N. Hilton, Boise, ID 83706, by email at email@example.com or via the department’s online public comment form.