The Special Town Board meeting of the Town of Cooks Valley was called to order on April 14, 2015 at the Cooks Valley town hall located at 15751 40th Street at 7:00 pm by Chairman Darrel Fehr. Supervisor present was David Clements. Other town officials present were Judith Prince-treasurer and Victoria Trinko-clerk. See attached attendance list.
Review of EOG non-metallic mining permit with public comment: Tom Maul stated there are permit conditions and a project to be discussed.
Jane Sonnentag inquired about receiving pre-blast results which she has called Tom Maul’s number and the office and asked for many times. Tom Maul said he has not received any calls. Numbers to contact Tom Maul-cell#715-450-6064 or the office#715-738-3900 which is the front desk that will link the caller to the person who can help them with their inquiry. The office location at the mine site is not accessible to people.
Mark Berge showed pictures of the 2014 milky storm water discharge that was stated would never happen at the application for a mining permit by EOG. He wondered what they are going to do about it to keep it from happening again.
Supervisor David Clements directed Jane Sonnentag to section 10.4 Notice of Violation of the EOG mining permit. Tom Maul commented Jane Sonnentag’s residence is not within the ¼ mile limit of blasting and she had not requested a pre-blast assessment until recently. There was discussion about the time of the pre-blast assessment.
Tom Maul: The County/DNR standards did not meet the needs of the storm water retention. The standards were a one year event for quality and a 10 year event of the structure. After the milky storm water discharge, they were directed to take action so this would not happen again, with the caution of saying “never”. To alleviate the problem, an additional 40 acres was purchased [Johnson property] for the construction of two storm water storage ponds. These ponds will have valves to discharge the water in a rush to simulate the flow of a thunderstorm. The silt in the storm water will be settled out by the use of flocculants. The discharge will not be clear but clear enough by the County/DNR standards for discharge [containing some sediment and a percentage of flocculent. Almost 20 acres of the purchased 40 acres will be used for the storm water storage ponds. The existing ponds on the mine site have been expanded in depth to help contain storm water. There are four pumps currently on the mine site with more 10 inch pumps to be installed and ready by fall. If the existing ponds and the projected new storage ponds cannot contain the storm water discharge, EOG executives have directed Tom Maul to pump water back into the mine and if needed shut down operation of the mine so the discharge event of 2014 does not occur again. This project will begin after a Chippewa County public hearing and a Town of Cooks Valley public hearing and special meeting to approve the amended reclamation project. Discussion concerning the discharge included the amount of discharge [slow trickle or rush] and timing of the discharge. The discharge would be released into a culvert on 135th Avenue which empties onto Mark Berge’s land. The last year’s discharge further eroded the gully which Mark Berge had placed in a CREP program prior to the construction of the mine site upon advisement by the land conservation office to alleviate erosion and repair the gully. Mark Berge will call the County to see how the discharge would affect the repair of the gully. It was decided the County, Mark Berge and Tom Maul would walk through the gully to determine the effect of the discharge on the gully placed in the CREP program.
Chuck Flodquist had the following questions: how many acres will drain into the pond? About 160-180 acres drain into the ponds; there is a 100 year plan which is determined by the volume of rainfall within a certain number of hours. What size pipe will be used for the discharge? An 18 inch pipe with a valve which would have a discharge containing 40 milligrams of sediment per liter, not milky water. What is the black plastic for in the field? The black plastic is to keep the silt from getting into the wetlands that is located on the mine site property. What about the Johnson house? EOG is not moving the Johnson house. No plans are made of what use will be made of the Johnson house. Chuck Flodquist said he knew the ponds were not going to hold the amount of water flowing off of the mine property. He said the volume of water that comes through his property and the milky ponds on his property told him it was not working.
Victoria Trinko commented that despite the recommendations by the County/DNR and the efforts of EOG, the Town of Cooks Valley’s streams and trout streams have taken an environmental hit and the future water discharge will not have the water clarity of the creeks prior to the construction and production of this mine site.
Mark Berge encouraged citizens to contact their legislators to enact changes in regulations for industrial sand mines instead of the regulations that monitored gravel and sand pits of the past.
Chairman Darrel Fehr said he talked with Kevin [Curly] Zwiefelhofer about the sand that has seeped into Curly’s well and damage to his sheetrock. Tom Maul indicated the Zwiefelhofer property is outside the initial testing area for blasting. He cited an example in the Town of Howard-Ed Dachel-who alleged that blasting was hurting his house. After 3 years of monitoring, no seismic vibrations were registered that would have damaged his house. Ed Dachel’s house is located closer to a blasting site than Zwiefelhofer’s house. The water testing results indicated chemicals in the water were within the normal range, but still there is sand being pumped into the washing machine and dish washer. The geologist for EOG stated there is no baseline data and more data would have to be collected with possible placement of seismic equipment by his house. Tom Maul said they would not be blasting for a while. Ken Schmitt said under certain conditions, he has felt shakings at his house.
Gary Yakesh said he had his water tested in 1997 and there were traces of iron in the water. In 2008, he had his water tested again for chemicals. He was changing the iron filter every 3-4 months until two years ago. Then he started changing the filter monthly. Now he is changing it weekly and the hot water heater still plugged up. The filter he brought in was changed at a six day period. It was suggested he contact Stacy Steinke at Chippewa County for information on the water’s iron content. The EOG geologist suggested there are mineral sections at different depths and he is located at one of those sections. She suggested an iron filter apron to collect the iron in the water. More people will contact Gary Yakesh to deal with the iron situation.
Why is EOG hauling more sand into the mine site? EOG is buying finer sand from Superior Silica, which considers the sand to be waste sand, to blend with the natural sand at the mine. This hauling of sand into the mine is a short term situation and the sand will be hauled out again. Gary Yakesh asked if the mine is shut down due to water having to be pumped into the mine, will EOG have sand? EOG has the Almena site, Bobby Schindler’s mine site, Texas mine sites, or will buy sand to fulfill EOG’s need for sand.
Mark Berge: How far is the mine floor from the ground water level? The floor of the mine is at 1105 and the ground water level is at 1100 so the mine floor is 5 ft. above the ground water level. If the ground water level goes up, they will raise the floor level of the mine.
Mark Berge: What was the result of the noise testing? No house registered above 45 decibels. The trucks make more noise as they are closer to the homes. Mark Berge commented he does not hear the mine noise as much as before but the trucks make more noise than the mine site.
Gary Yakesh asked what time of night do they switch from beepers to strobes as he has heard the beeper at 10:00 p.m.? Tom Maul was unsure of the time but felt they should be turned to strobes before 10:00pm. He was going to check on the time change.
Supervisor David Clements stated that test wells need to be placed downstream with the completion of the new project and in the direction of the ground water flow which is southeast.
Chairman Darrel Fehr said he wanted the 135th Avenue road project completed. Driveways [in particular the Town of Cooks Valley cemetery driveway] need to be replaced due to its removal during the 135th Avenue road project, cracks need to be filled, maintenance of the road needs to be done and ditch slope completed.
Adjourn: David Clements made a motion to adjourn at 8:20 pm. Darrel Fehr seconded the motion. The motion carried 2-0.
Typed: April 16, 2015 Respectfully submitted
Approved: May 11, 2015 Victoria Trinko -Town Clerk