Public comment period for Sappi water discharge closes next ThursdayThe Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) sent notice of intent to modify the state-issued water discharge permit for Sappi Fine Paper LLC issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) sent notice of intent to modify the state-issued water discharge permit for Sappi Fine Paper LLC issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Under the terms of this permit, Sappi would be allowed to discharge water they currently receive through the city of Cloquet’s Lake Superior waterline back into the St. Louis River at their mill in Cloquet.
Under another permit issued by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Sappi is allowed to take water out of the St. Louis River for its pulping process. Under this Water Appropriation Permit, however, the DNR is allowed to place restrictions on the water appropriation if the St. Louis River drops below the river’s protected flow rate of 638 cubic feet per second.
Sappi has been working with DNR staff to obtain relief from the appropriation restriction, eventually negotiating to become a temporary non-consumptive user by allowing for the transfer of Lake Superior water into the river when river flows drop below the protected flow rate.
Cloquet City Engineer Jim Prusak that the problem arises when Lake Superior gets stirred up by storms or some other reason, making the water too turbid for the mill to use.
He explained that if the lake water is too dirty and the river is low, Sappi has proposed that it be allowed to use more water from the river and replace that water with Lake Superior water, which would be treated and released into the river.
The Lake Superior water to be discharged comes from a waterline that is owned and operated by the city of Cloquet. Currently the mill uses on average 11 to 12 million gallons per day from Lake Superior also for its pulping process. This water is chlorinated before it reaches the mill to kill any potential invasive species such as zebra mussels or other organisms, Prusak explained.
Before being allowed to discharge this water back into the river, however, the water will have to be dechlorinated as a condition of the MPCA’s permit. Sappi is proposing construction of a dechlorination station near the city of Cloquet’s Mace Harris Reservoir located just off Midway Road.
From there, a 30-inch pipe would convey the dechlorinated lake water to the Sappi facility, where it would be discharged to the river to ensure river levels do not drop below the protected flow rate.
According to the MPCA press release, “Effluent limitation and permit conditions for this new waste stream have been developed to ensure protection of surface water with a fishable/swimmable beneficial use and to avoid the transfer of flora and fauna from Lake Superior into the St. Louis River.”
The permit, if approved, would be for a five-year period. A draft permit is available online at www.pca.state.mn.us/news/data/index.cfm?PN=1. The public comment period for the permit began Aug. 27 and closes Sept. 26. Comments, petitions or requests must be submitted in writing before the end of the public comment period to: Deborah Idzorek, 5th floor, Industrial Division, 520 Lafayette Road, St. Paul, MN 55155.