State and Province News December 2012
A pair of former gravel pits may be part of the solution to Austin’s water supply concerns. The Austin American-Statesman reports that the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) has spent six months trying to determine how to capture water collecting downriver. Earlier this year, LCRA inundated the two pits with more than 2,000 acre-feet of water. Each acre-foot, the agency says, could supply water to approximately three Austin households per year. If the project is successful, it could be expanded to include construction of up to three reservoirs in the lower basin, with each storing approximately 20,000 acre-feet of water.
Two men were hospitalized after a tree fell on top of them. According to KLTV.com, the two were taking down a tree at Emory-based Moody’s Sand and Gravel. As they worked to cut the tree down, it crashed down on them. The men, whose names and conditions were not disclosed at the time of the accident, were air lifted to a Tyler hospital.
Dummerston’s Development Review Board granted a 20-year permit for a new gravel pit, the Brattleboro Reformer reports. The newspaper indicated that, even though state Act 250 clearance is necessary, “the board’s decision is a significant step forward for a plan that will provide both Dummerston and Putney with a much-needed, steady supply of gravel for decades.” Selectman Tom Bodett told the newspaper that the towns’ joint gravel supply is running “critically low” at the pit in Dummerston. Last year, the town signed an agreement with Renaud Gravel Inc. to create a new pit near the towns’ existing gravel operation. The pit will be on land owned by Renaud, and trucks would use a facility also owned by Renaud to access the road. Permit conditions include stockpiling of material at the pit, neighbor notification of blasting, and installation of a 6-foot security fence.
The body of a boy who was playing with friends at Vulcan Materials’ Prince George quarry has been recovered. Clacy Sullivan slipped into the water and didn’t resurface, according to NBC12.com. Police told the news outlet that divers found the boy’s body about 50 yards offshore. There were no indications of foul play.
The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board rejected an appeal from Concrete Nor’West, saying that the operator failed to prove that the Whatcom County Council erred in turning down its request to place a “minerals resources” designation on Eddy’s Mountain, a 1,570-foot hill on land adjacent to an existing pit. The Bellingham Herald reports that the council rejected the designation even though the land met criteria for gravel quality, as well as distance from residential areas and wells. The hearings board ruled that, even though the criteria were met, the council was not obligated to designate the land for mining and that it was justified in citing public opposition to the designation because the county is required to consider whether changes in land use will serve the public interest. An attorney for the operator said it might appeal the ruling.
A sand hauler was fined more than $3,500 for driving an overweight sand truck on a Wood County road shortly after the county’s new weight limits took effect. According to The Marshfield News, a truck owned by Marawood Transport, a division of Marawood Construction Services Inc., was stopped while carrying a 74,580-pound load. The new weight limits require trucks with loads of more than 48,000 pounds to have a permit from the county’s highway department. Marawood co-owner Mitch Schindler told the newspaper that he believes the truck is allowed to drive on the roadways because it has a permit to haul aggregate. He said the county highway department considered it frac sand, but it wasn’t because it hadn’t been processed. At press time, the county had scheduled talks with Marawood to discuss the situation.
The state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that its biennial budget request to the Department of Administration asks for two additional air program staff as part of its effort to expand its management of natural resources in and around the state’s industrial sand sites. “We understand the growing concern for environmental protection as this industry continues to expand,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp in an agency press release. “We are committed to dedicating staff time and resources to ensure we protect Wisconsin’s public health and our natural resource treasures.” If approved, the staff members would work on compliance and permitting issues around the state.
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