Town of Auburn (WQOW) - A proposed frac sand mine west of New Auburn is in the beginning stages of filing permits, but already groups have stepped forward with concerns.
The area west of New Auburn will be the tenth frac sand mine in Chippewa County if it clears a few checks in the permitting process.
"There's surface water and wetlands protections that apply as well as surface water and groundwater protections... so we've got to make sure that those issues are addressed in the reclamation plan and in the permit conditions," says Chippewa County Land Conservation and Forest Management project Engineer Seth Ebel.
One major concern has been voiced by the local chapter of Trout Unlimited, which worries unwanted water could leak into the creek. "If problems occur in the spawning tributaries, either in the form of sedimentation or pollution or water loss, well then... that fishery is going to be jeopardized," says Duke Welter of Trout Unlimited.
They'd like to see more natural filtration in place to clean the runoff before it enters Sand Creek. "It is important to take a look at that end land use and how feasible it is on a reclaimed mine site," says Ebel. "We're concerned about that because irrigated row crop agriculture has a tendency to concentrate pesticides and herbicides and nutrients, phosphorous and nitrogen in the soil," says Welter.
That's where the county comes in with management plans designed to keep the mine operations safe around the natural habitat. "If reclamation isn't done properly at any mine, you will get sediment washing off site, potentially chemicals washing off site," says Ebel.
A possibility that stresses the importance of exploring all the options before approving a permit to mine... "The applicant's been very good to work with so far and we've gone back and forth with them through plan review suggesting changes and they've made the suggested changes that we've had," says Ebel.
"They want to be responsible operators. They're also business people and they want to do what they can to get this operation up and running," says Welter... which could be as early as next spring.
The county is in the process of taking public feedback on this proposed mine just north of County Highway M in northwestern Chippewa County. Written comments will be accepted until June 19th and a final permit decision will be made within 60 days.
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