By Beth Proctor, Mankato
I recently traveled to the Capitol to testify in support of Senate File 786. Thousands of acres along the Minnesota River are in stages of review for silica sand mining. This is probably only the start.
The silica sand is taken from the Jordan Aquifer, the source of our drinking water.
I asked the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources questions about silica sand mining and protection of our drinking water aquifers. What amount of an aquifer (surface area) can be mined? To what depth the aquifer can be mined? What type of fill material can be used in an aquifer?
The answer to these questions was the same: There is no statewide regulation.
Does any agency attempt to determine the changes in an aquifer after the mining is done? There has been some interest, but nothing has been done.
Water permits are issued for each mine.
Our drinking water aquifers are overdrawn.
Per Jordan Sands' Environmental Assessment Worksheet, they plan to put waste material from the dry and wet plants (waste containing a chemical that is a known carcinogen) into the aquifer. They plan to visually inspect each load of fill.
Six of the Minnesota Department of Health's 11 pages of comments concerned protecting our drinking water.
Senate File 786 calls for a statewide moratorium on new silica sand operations. The moratorium will give state agencies time to prepare a generic environmental impact statement and strengthen standards.
Call your representatives. Urge them to support Senate File 786 and protect our drinking water.