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To the Editor


Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
Posted in

Monday July 2, 2001
As a citizen of the Preston area, I am concerned about the environmental impact the Pro-Corn Ethanol Plant expansion will have on our water resources. The following data is available on the Department of Natural Resources website: www.dnr.state.mn.us

Prior to 1998, the average water consumption for the city of Preston was 61 million gallons per year (MGY). In 1998, when the ethanol plant began production, that amount increased to 114 MGY, an 87% increase. Both of Prestons city wells were pumping at capacity at that time, so a third well was drilled near the Branding Iron Restaurant. Data from 1999 and 2000 are not available on the DNR website, but I assume that with each increase in production at the ethanol plant, water consumption increases.

Prestons current Water Appropriation Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources allows the city to pump 145 MGY from the Jordan aquifer. In order to allow the ethanol plant to expand, the city has requested an amendment to their Water Appropriation Permit, allowing them to pump 185 MGY. This is three times what the city was pumping prior to construction of the ethanol plant.

Pro-Corns EAW (p.6) for the current expansion project states: Water use for the Preston area may need further evaluation in the future. The DNR recently conducted an aquifer test at Preston using the new city well. DNR staff indicated that during the test it appeared that the South Branch Root River is in hydraulic communication with the Jordan aquifer. The implication from this test is that there may be limits to how much water may be pumped from the well, particularly during periods of low flow.

Has further evaluation of water use for the Preston area been done? Who will pay for this evaluation? The Water Appropriation permit must be granted by the DNR before increased production at Pro-Corns facility can begin, yet excavation for the plant expansion is already underway. Other permits cited in the EAW that must be in place before increased production at Pro-Corns plant can begin are:
1) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) for RO water discharge (public comment period open until July 9) 2) NPDES Storm Water Permit 3) Above-ground Liquid Storage Tank Permit
4) Wastewater Treatment Agreement with City of Preston
5) Plan review by the fire marshal

I recognize the positive economic impact the ethanol plant can have for the short term. However, there is no guarantee that five years from now the government subsidies which currently make ethanol production a viable business will still be in place. All of the positive environmental effects of burning ethanol are debatable, as is the theory that ethanol will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The negative environmental effects, however, are all there right now for us to see, smell, and breath. Increased water consumption may also deplete our aquifer and endanger our precious stream resources.

Steve Roessler
Preston, MN

As a citizen of the Preston area, I am concerned about the environmental impact the Pro-Corn Ethanol Plant expansion will have on our water resources. The following data is available on the Department of Natural Resources website: www.dnr.state.mn.us

Prior to 1998, the average water consumption for the city of Preston was 61 million gallons per year (MGY). In 1998, when the ethanol plant began production, that amount increased to 114 MGY, an 87% increase. Both of Prestons city wells were pumping at capacity at that time, so a third well was drilled near the Branding Iron Restaurant. Data from 1999 and 2000 are not available on the DNR website, but I assume that with each increase in production at the ethanol plant, water consumption increases.

Prestons current Water Appropriation Permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources allows the city to pump 145 MGY from the Jordan aquifer. In order to allow the ethanol plant to expand, the city has requested an amendment to their Water Appropriation Permit, allowing them to pump 185 MGY. This is three times what the city was pumping prior to construction of the ethanol plant.

Pro-Corns EAW (p.6) for the current expansion project states: Water use for the Preston area may need further evaluation in the future. The DNR recently conducted an aquifer test at Preston using the new city well. DNR staff indicated that during the test it appeared that the South Branch Root River is in hydraulic communication with the Jordan aquifer. The implication from this test is that there may be limits to how much water may be pumped from the well, particularly during periods of low flow.

Has further evaluation of water use for the Preston area been done? Who will pay for this evaluation? The Water Appropriation permit must be granted by the DNR before increased production at Pro-Corns facility can begin, yet excavation for the plant expansion is already underway. Other permits cited in the EAW that must be in place before increased production at Pro-Corns plant can begin are:
1) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination (NPDES) for RO water discharge (public comment period open until July 9) 2) NPDES Storm Water Permit 3) Above-ground Liquid Storage Tank Permit
4) Wastewater Treatment Agreement with City of Preston
5) Plan review by the fire marshal

I recognize the positive economic impact the ethanol plant can have for the short term. However, there is no guarantee that five years from now the government subsidies which currently make ethanol production a viable business will still be in place. All of the positive environmental effects of burning ethanol are debatable, as is the theory that ethanol will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The negative environmental effects, however, are all there right now for us to see, smell, and breath. Increased water consumption may also deplete our aquifer and endanger our precious stream resources.

Steve Roessler
Preston, MN

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