Return to homepage of -- 'General Mills vs Minnesota DNR' --

Below is posted the October 16, 2000 letter on the aquifer issue written by the mayor of Golden Valley. As far as I know, this letter gives a good synopsis of the General Mills and Golden Valley side of the issue. Note that the EAW comment period stated in the letter has been changed, it is now 11-Dec to 10-Jan. -- ds

Golden Valley
763-593-8109 (fax)

City Hall
7800 Golden Valley Road
Golden Valley, MN  55427-4588

16 October 2000

Directors Mary Hepokoski and Barb Juliar
League of Women Voters of Golden Valley Board
6473 Westchester Circle
Golden Valley, MN 55427

Dear Directors:

The City of Golden Valley is at the beginning stages of studying a proposal by General Mills that would provide the City with approximately 25 acres of land and funding to be used for a nature area and allow General Mills to continue using ground water for its once through cooling operations. Although General Mills initiated discussion with the City a year ago, it has taken this long for legal requirements to be met so the proposal could be brought forth for further public study and discussion. The following brief history of the proposal will answer some of your questions. The rest of the questions will be answered as part of the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) process, which is currently under way.

Brief History
Once through cooling is a method that uses ground water to cool facilities by passing it through a series of condensers and chillers before discharging the clean water back to the ground via ponds or other waterways. Minnesota legislation requires every company that uses ground water for once through cooling to cease the practice by January 1, 2003, unless it meets certain environmental standards. In addition, to be exempted from the law the corporation must deed or lease land to a nonprofit organization for a nature preserve and incur the costs of developing that nature preserve.

General Mills believes it meets the standards for exemption to the once through cooling legislation. In late 1999, General Mills representatives approached the City of Golden Valley regarding the corporation’s intent to apply for the exemption and deed approximately 25 acres of land for public use as a nature preserve. City officials discussed the proposal with representatives of General Mills and the DNR and with the engineer from the Bassett Creek Water Management Commission. The DNR did not believe General Mills met the exemption, so General Mills filed a lawsuit to assert its claim. The City of Golden Valley then filed a brief in support of General Mills, giving the City Council the option to decide if the proposal has merit for the City.

The City of Golden Valley is interested in the General Mills proposal because of the potential benefits, including:
•    retention of about 25 acres of open space, currently zoned and available for professional office development, for use by the public
•    creation of options to improve access and drainage for the neighborhood
•    water quality benefits for Bassett Creek
•    opportunities for public use, education, and future active recreation
•    creation/restoration of wetlands

EAW Process and Public Input
However, the City also wants a full discussion regarding the environmental impacts, which will be done through the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) process. EAWs are intended to be brief informational documents that identify and discuss a proposed project’s anticipated environmental impacts (both negative and positive). They are prepared to help public and governmental decision-makers decide whether a project should be authorized or whether a more elaborate assessment, an Environment Impact Statement (EIS), should be prepared.

Although the proposed nature preserve does not appear to fall within the mandatory category of an EAW or EIS, General Mills volunteered to complete the EAW to provide full disclosure regarding the project. An EAW most commonly addresses a proposed project’s impacts on:
•     fish and wildlife
•     wetlands, farmlands, and parklands
•     erosion and storm water runoff
•     groundwater and soil conditions
•     contaminated properties
•     traffic, air quality, and noise
•     cultural resources
•     infrastructure and public services

After an EAW is published, there is a 30-day public comment period followed by a public hearing on the findings. General Mills will deliver the EAW to the City for review November 8. After City staff and consultants review the EAW to determine its completeness, the City will distribute the EAW to required agencies and the public for comment. The EAW will also be available for review on the City website at The public comment period will be from November 21 to December 21,2000, and the public hearing is scheduled for January 16, 2001. We look forward to and appreciate public comment on this proposal.


Mary E. Anderson

website by dave stack , --- last update 00dec01