Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Unimin and Tomah Water: Chemicals? Drought? What's the Impact?

Dear Mayor and city council members,
I would love to call you all personally and discuss this, but with the meeting being tonight, I wanted to make sure you all considered different aspects of supplying Unimin with water besides the financial aspect of it.
I was read the letter you all received from the city administrator that explained all the wonderful financial benefits the City of Tomah would receive by supplying Unimin with their water supply.  That is the good aspects of voting yes tonight.  I am asking you to vote no.
I understand the vote tonight is to change the ordinance so further discussions can be make with Unimin on a developers agreement.  Please vote no.  My reasons are as follows:
1. First and foremost, Unimin told the town of Greenfield that they would be using 70 gallons per minute for their processing of sand.  Now they are saying they will need 1000 gallons per minute.  Their explanation during last night's town hall meeting was that they didn't have the information from their sub contracting company that they have now.  This made no sense to many people in the audience.  Unimin claims to be number on in their field and have been doing business well over 100 years.  How could they have a margin of error from 70 gallons per minute (which did not require them to get a high capacity well) to now 1000 gallons per minute?  With them being so incorrect here, are they incorrect in asking for 1 million per day as well? 
2. Has Unimin told the city what chemicals are used in the processing of sand?  And what happens to this water (and chemicals) once the sand is processed?  It goes back into the ground water.  It's "recycled."  So what happens with these chemical that are being used? 

3. What if there is a drought?  Will Unimin stop the processing of sand during those times?
4.  WHY DOES UNIMIN NOW NEED TOMAH'S WATER SUPPLY???  What has changed?  They told us last night that Greenfield has enough water to supply them.  So why do they need Tomah's?  Have they answered this question?  From my understanding at last night's meeting they expected a layer of shale that the aquifer sits below for them to drill their well into.  They admitted that when they drilled, this layer of shale was not there which surprised them.  I am no geologist, but my impression is that they don't know what will happen if they use 1 million gallons of water per day from Greenfield.  Since there is not the level of shale under this sand supporting the aquifer, what will happen to the homes and land near these wells?  Will it sink?  Is this why the want other water sources?  I suggest that Tomah hire a geologist to study this before they vote yes to the changing or the ordinance.
One thing I have learned from Unimin is that you have to take all of their responses with a grain of salt.  They have some wonderful and smart people working for their company who are good at telling people what they want to hear.   Hire a geologist to study this and educate you all before you vote!
There is no reason for Tomah to rush into changing this ordinance. These council people need to be cautious and educate themselves on every part of what a sand mine will do and not just the wonderful financial aspects of it! I'm not saying Tomah should not allow this eventually, but please, be responsible and educate yourselves first.  Unimin needs this water.  Voting No today does not mean it can't be voted on at a later time.  Please be responsible and get educated before you blindly give the popular and expected vote.  Let's understand the real reasons WHY Unimin now needs to tap into the City of Tomah's water supply first.  And don't go off what Unimin tells you.  Let's find out from a licenced geologist that is not being paid by Unimin. 
Jamie Gregar

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