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August 13th, 2020

county waiverSeward County commissioners Jim Rice, left, Nathan McCaffrey and Randy Malin listen to a presentation from Administrator April Warden regarding a setback buffer waiver for a new wastewater treatment facility being constructed by National Beef. L&T photo/Robert PierceROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times


National Beef Packing recently commenced with the construction of a new $65 million wastewater facility.

As part of that process, the company is required to have adjacent homeowners, well owners and landowners within various distances to sign a waiver allowing the application of water for irrigation on nearby property.

One of the owners of property near the facility is Seward County, which owns about 160 acres of adjacent land, and Monday, commissioners approved to allow Commission Chairman Nathan McCaffrey to sign a setback buffer waiver for the county to allow National Beef to apply the water there.

Seward County Administrator April Warden said the facility was designed by a professional engineering firm and approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

“Part of that agreement to building this facility was that the discharge water had to meet high quality standard and also be beneficial reuse for irrigation,” she said.

National Beef and Brown Farms have reached an agreement under which Brown Farms will use the discharge water to irrigate on their property. 

“The water will be held in a storage pond then distributed to one of three irrigation systems,” Warden said. “This water is treated process water and does not contain any sanitary waste.”

Warden said the KDHE permit also requires soil sampling, crop monitoring and water runoff management.

“The permit also requires National Beef to notify adjacent homeowners, well owners and land owners within the required setback buffer of the application of this treated water,” she said. “National Beef is also required to have owners within the setback buffer to sign a waiver allowing the application of this water.”

According to the waiver, KDHE is allowing a zone of application to extend into a specified setback buffer associated with a water well, stream, property line o residence on an adjacent property with a waiver from the property owner.

Those buffers are:

• Within 100 feet of a property line

• Within 200 feet of a water well on a property or an adjacent property

• Within 200 feet of a stream on a property or an adjacent property

• Within 500 feet of a residence on a property or an adjacent property

Warden said the county’s land does qualify for one of the buffers.

“The county does own land within 100 feet of one of the portions where water is going to be discharged,” she said. “Therefore, to get that permit, we do need to sign the wastewater land application setback buffer waiver in order for them to continue with the project.”

Commissioner Jim Rice inquired as to why there was the 500-foot setback.

“My understanding is that was part of the permit process from KDHE that they were required to obtain all of this,” Warden said.  “It’s different setbacks if you’re a resident or if your property is adjacent or there’s a water well on the property or if it’s just a property line. For Seward County, the land we have, it’s within 100 feet of our property line.”

National Beef’s Jeff Flowers later joined the meeting and gave the reasoning behind the buffer.

“The explanation we got from KDHE when we filed for the permit was that part of the request was that we had to notify any homeowner we were going to apply the water within 500 feet of their residence, within 200 feet of a water well or a well site and 100 feet of a property line of anybody who had property within 100 feet,” he said.

“I believe that whether it’s by law or  regulation, it’s a setback,” McCaffrey said. “The setback buffer’s already in place.”

“Basically, what the permit says is we have to notify those landowners or property owners,” Flowers said. “It’s something that hasn’t been done in all places. They’re starting to put that in the permits, saying if we are going to apply within 100 feet of your land, we need to notify you we are applying treated wastewater within 100 feet of your property. It is strictly a notification, and the waiver’s for the landowners to say, ‘We’re aware of this applicant.’ It’s for every piece of property within those guidelines, whether it’s the 100 feet from that or 500 feet from a house or 200 feet from a water well.”

McCaffrey said the waiver for the county only pertains to quarter section of land located near the wastewater facility.

Following the brief discussion, commissioners voted unanimously to allow McCaffrey to sign the waiver.

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