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Council discusses ethanol plant discharge

By Staff | Dec 18, 2007

ESTHERVILLE –Questions aired at Monday’s city council meeting flowed at a pleasant pace in regard to the proposed Superior ethanol discharge permit into the Des Moines River north of Estherville. It appears, however, that the pipeline to the answers is clogged in bureaucratic muck.

City administrator Steve Woodley told the council the requested permit application information was received and is being reviewed by various city departments.

He said it boils down to a question of “what it is and what it is not.”

Woodley explained, “We have three options. We can:

n Do nothing.

n Send in our written comments regarding the concentration discharge on our wastewater treatment operations.

n Consider asking for a public information meeting to be held in Estherville.”

He expressed concerns about the amount of total dissolved solids that may be released. “This will have the biggest impact on us and we don’t want to be treating to a greater degree than we have to.”

Wastewater treatment superintendent Paul Barnes stated he is quite concerned on the economic impact this could have on the city of Estherville because the plan includes an average flow of 500,000 gallons per day. “There is no good way to remove TDS economically.”

In regard to this discharge, Barnes said it should not be the city’s responsibility to spend money to clean up the river.

One of the city’s requests will be that sampling frequency increase to more than once a month to possibly weekly.

Representing the city parks and recreation board were Gary Phillips and Bob Jensen. Jensen also represented the Emmet County Water Trails Association. Both entities, along with the Emmet County Conservation Board, are very concerned with discharge into the Des Moines River. While it is benefitting Dickinson County, Emmet County is left to handle the waste.

Jensen indicated all the groups are in support of an open forum.

He found the 91.4 degree temperature allowance to be a major factor which would greatly affect wildlife and vegetation and most likely create open water all winter.

The groups are disheartened since the waterway was showing promise. “Now this is being dumped at the northern most site,” Jensen said.