Letter: The impact of Big Stone II
Let's hope the Boundary Waters Commission for Big Stone Lake reconvenes sooner rather than later (Board: Minn. should have a say in water appropriation for Big Stone II, Jan. 29, 2008). Why? If Big Stone II gets built and we have a dry winter wit...
Let's hope the Boundary Waters Commission for Big Stone Lake reconvenes sooner rather than later (Board: Minn. should have a say in water appropriation for Big Stone II, Jan. 29, 2008). Why? If Big Stone II gets built and we have a dry winter with little or no spring rains, we could see a three-foot drop in Big Stone Lake levels, already shallow at an average depth of eight feet.
Minnesotans, aside from not having a say in the decision-making process whereby the South Dakota Water Management Board signed off on giving Otter Tail Power rights to 3.2 billion gallons of surface water plus 3.2 billion gallons of groundwater per year -- you need to know the following. The South Dakota Water Management Board approved all of Otter Tail Power's water requests for Big Stone II knowing that the total came to more than double the amount required to operate both Big Stone Plant Unit 1 and Big Stone II, in addition to the ethanol plant, i.e., 28,000 acre-feet per year versus the "needed" 13,000 acre-feet. An acre-foot is enough water to cover an acre of land one foot deep, or about what a household of four would consume in a year.
Worse, while the agreement from the 1970s Minnesota-South Dakota Boundary Waters Commission does show that Otter Tail may not take water from the lake once levels reach 967 feet, Otter Tail Power can and has received "emergency appropriation" from the state of South Dakota to withdraw water, without any input from Minnesota. Furthermore, the 1970s agreement also gives Otter Tail Power the right to take water from Big Stone Lake from October to April whenever the lake levels are greater than or equal to only 965 feet -- a three-foot drop below current water levels of 968 ( http://www.state.sd.us/denr/DES/WaterRights/6846-3.pdf , p8-9 of 214).
Clean Water Action has and will continue to call for a reconvening of the Minnesota-South Dakota Boundary Waters Commission, and welcome the Minnesota River Board's repeated efforts to do the same.
Mary Jo Stueve, State Program Coordinator
Clean Water Action
Sioux Falls, S.D.