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Posted below are comments from Maarten Witberg who is an urban planner and environmental activist in the Netherlands, Europe. He learned of this issue on the internet. --- ds

Date: Oct 30, 2000
Subject: Aquifer water for once through cooling

A few suggestions:
. focus your attention to the issue of depletion of the aquifer and the precedent that expanding the use would give. This is a legal issue and therefor, get legal advice. The environmental issue is that aquifers should not be depleted faster than they are recharged, and certainly one-pass cooling systems are on the debt side of the balance. Why should they be so? cos aquifer recharge is slow, cos you get aquifers only once, cos you better be safe than sorry. Knowledge of groundwater systems is not very great except in general terms.

. don't get overrun by the idea of reuse of the cooling effluent; it can be argued that the type of ecosystem you get in one place depends on the chemical quality (and average temperature) of naturally occuring water. Naturally occurring water is always a mix of precipitation (slightly acidic, even in the best of times) groundwater upwelling (with a variety of natural compounds such as sodium, chlorine, chalk, ferrous oxide, and even arsenic and organic compounds), the watershed, naturally occuring river floods and in some instances, marine tidal influence. I guess that in Minnesota the latter is not the case, but all the others are possible contribuants to the water quality of the nature preserve. My point is, that you should be careful about mixing water from different sources, even with seemingly clean and perfect water from a (deep) aquifer, when you are trying to get a certain type of ecosystem. It's different when you don't have anything or water that is eutrophied or something and you still want to get some natural values. So, my second point is, the first point is a case of local analysis and weighing of options. The suggestion of the env impact study is good but it should include water quality analysis in relation to the ecosystem that is sought in the natural preserve. My third point is that reuse of the effluent is a partial compensation at best and bad medicine at its worst. therefor, again, focus on depletion of the aquifer.

. present alternatives. Let them consider opening a window when it's hot. Let them consider closed system heat pumps (work both ways!). Let them consider roof vegetation as a natural insulator /and/ runoff buffer. Let them consider exterior sunscreens. Let them consider thinking in terms of the possible (what do we want? cooling) rather than the practical (what cooling system do we already have?).

You can cite me but being foreign and an urban planner, not a water specialist I guess I am not your high profile opinion leader in this issue. ....

Good luck,

Maarten Witberg
Urban Planner, Utrecht, the Netherlands

gaasterlandstraat 4
6835 KH Arnhem
tel...31 26 3629960

Nieuwe Gracht, stad milieu landschap
Nieuwe Gracht 25
3512 LC Utrecht
tel...31 30 2310200
fax...31 30 2310218

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