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Posted below is a September 22, 2000 letter to Clean Water Action from Linda Loomis. She has been following this aquifer issue more than any other concerned citizen that I know. ----- ds
From: Linda Loomis < firstname.lastname@example.org >
To: Clean Water Action < email@example.com >
Date: September 22, 2000
Subject: General Mills Once-through Water use System (OTS)
I am looking for advice and possibly some help with a situation that is developing in Golden Valley with regard to the use of ground water for cooling the corporate headquarters of General Mills.
General Mills has applied to the state of Minnesota for an exemption to State Statute 103G.271 Subd. 5. This Statute would require General Mills to discontinue the use of water from the aquifer to cool their headquarters. The exemption they have applied for is allowed under paragraph c of the same Statute and Subdivision. Since the adoption of this statute in 1989, only one exemption has been granted (in 1992 to H. B. Fuller), by the State.
Many citizens of Golden Valley are concerned about General Mills applying for this exemption. We feel that environmental concerns are not being adequately addressed. The Department of Natural Resources, who must approve this exemption, is being sued by General Mills, because of their inability to come to agreement over the terms of the exemption they are seeking. Many documents that might disclose environmental effects of this continued use of groundwater are tied up in discovery. The city of Golden Valley has entered into the lawsuit on behalf of General Mills, and our city council is reluctant to pursue citizens requests for more information. They (the city of Golden Valley) have also entered into a side agreement with General Mills to receive a 4 acre parcel of land adjacent to the land being set aside for a nature preserve. The city intends to use this 4 acre parcel for active recreation purposes. There are plans to construct lighted ball fields on the site.
In 1998 General Mills OTS use was 265 million gallons per year. This is more than the city Wayzata uses for municipal purposes. The exemption that General Mills is seeking in exchange for setting aside approximately 24 acres of land for a nature preserve will allow them to increase their water use to almost 500 million gallons of water per year.
The exemption that was granted to H. B. Fuller in 1992 allowed for 80 million gallons in 1998 in exchange for development of a 265 acres nature preserve (131 acres being donated by H. B. Fuller). It is my understanding that observation wells near the City of Wayzata's municipal wells indicate that the aquifer is not recharging as fast as water is being drawn off in that area. There are no observation wells near the General Mills site.
Additionally, General Mills has been granted a permit by the MPCA in order to discharge the water from their OTS directly into the Creek. Although I have not actually seen this permit, it is my understanding that they are allowed to release the used water directly into Bassett creek at a temperature as high as 90 degrees F. We are concerned about the effect releasing this volume of water into the creek at such a high temperature has on the ecology of the creek and also on the erosion of the creek bed
When citizens have asked for their concerns to be addressed, we have been rebuffed by the city council and city staff. We have been told that the DNR must approve all of this and that once they do, that means all environmental issues have been addressed. The city has told residents before that environmental issues are not the concern of the city, the MPCA and the DNR have jurisdiction and are looking out for our interests, so the city doesn't need to. It is also important to note that the city of Golden Valley does not use groundwater for municipal purposes. We purchase our water from the city of Minneapolis.
Needless to say, General Mills and the city of Golden Valley have tried to keep all of this quiet. They (Golden Valley and General Mills) have been in negotiations at least since June of 1999. That is when I first became aware of this proposal. As far as we have been able to tell surrounding cities that depend on groundwater as their municipal water source are unaware of this.
We have a citizens environmental committee that has been following this and would like any advice or assistance you may be able to give us.
6677 Olson Hwy
Golden Valley, MN 55427
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