Thanks to an investigative series in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Minnesotans have begun to be concerned about our groundwater. One farmer's experience in Sparta, Wisconsin, underscores the logic of one bill to protect water, South St. Paul DFL lawmaker Rick Hansen's HF425.
Lee Newspapers' Matt Hoffman reports in Sparta farmer eyes sand mine as cause of well issues; company agrees to drill new well:
Nothing happens when Dale Jorgenson twists the squeaky valve on a water spigot at his Sparta farm.
“Since 1900, the Jorgensons have owned this farm. We’ve never been without water before,” he said.
Soon, he’ll have a new well, and perhaps the old one will find some new life. But he believes that the company providing the new water source, U.S. Silica, is also responsible for plundering the old one.
On Friday, Jorgenson’s well ran dry for the second time in the past year, and he blames the new sand mine and processing facility about a mile away and its high-capacity well.
“It’s because of the sand mining operation,” he said. “The more they pump, the less water there is.”
U.S. Silica denies that its operations affected Jorgenson’s well. Potential use is estimated at 1 million gallons of water a day, but the plant is not yet fully operational.
“We don’t feel that this issue has anything to do with our mining operations in Sparta,” company spokesman Mike Lawson said.
However, the two parties have come together to reach a fix. U.S. Silica will drill a new well on the Jorgenson property and examine the old one to see whether repairs are possible. . . .
Jorgenson's well first went dry last April when the company started testing its own well. Although the company then offered a new well, the farmer refused the offer because it came with only a one-year guarantee. After this second episode, the sand mining company has installed two tanks and is supplying water for Jorgenson's 100-cow dairy herd.
Hansen's bill didn't get a hearing, but perhaps it ought to have.
Photo: The train wreck of sand mining.
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