Thursday, February 28, 2013


from WATERWORKS, a column by Gordon Prickett for the 3/6/2013 Aitkin Independent Age A NORMAL WINTER With plenty of snow for the trails and the snowplows, and timely thick ice on the lakes, this has been a pretty good winter in the northland. Septic mounds are safe under adequate snow cover. I’m reminded that this spring it is time for us to pump and inspect our individual sewage treatment system. It’s seventeen years old and doing fine. Last summer we replaced a two-inch drilled water well that was thirty-six years old. The quiet solitude of winter at the lake is an opportunity for bird watching and tracking critters in the fresh snow. Also, it is a good time for taking stock of tasks completed, and those still left. WHY JOIN A LAKE ASSOCIATION? Whether year-round residents, snow birds, or weekend cabin people, there are about two dozen active lake associations in the county that try to figure out how to get most of these property owners on their lakes to join and show up for picnics, boat parades, and special events. A fair number of us came up north to get away from crowds and congestion, and would just like to be left alone. Times change and lakes change, but as I remarked earlier, "quiet solitude" has its place. Our county coalition of lake associations, ACLARA, recently revised the statement of purpose that spells out how we serve the lakes. There are five ways in which ACLARA does this. For lake people and for associations who contemplate either joining or urging neighbors to join, I have included these five ideas: 1. Protect, preserve, and improve the waters and shoreland. 2. Serve as a voice to governmental agencies. 3. Inform citizens about stewardship of water resources. 4. Connect with other lake associations and coalitions. 5. Support safety and courtesy on the water and shoreline. UPDATE ON SHORELAND INDUSTRIAL WASTE This column mentioned an episode of industrial waste disposal near a lake in Nordland Township, first in the Age’s January 2nd edition, and then "The Rest of the Story" on February 6. Oily waste material was spread last summer and "inspected" on October 19th. I have just been informed by the County that still no information can be released or discussed by governmental agencies until the case has run its course and is closed. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 1, 2013


WATERWORKS Column by Gordon Prickett for the 2/6/2013 Aitkin Independent Age THE REST OF THE STORY Last month I wrote in this Waterworks column about a dumping case in Nordland Township near a Recreational Development lake. Last summer industrial waste was trucked up north in canisters from a bio-diesel plant in Anoka and poured into pits dug in a hayfield in Section 4. Our zoning office was surprised last fall when they learned about this dumping, because no permit had been applied for. In October the County notified the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency about this waste disposal, and an inspector was on the site within hours. SPILL AND COVER-UP It turns out that neighbors had known for weeks that something unusual had been happening in this hayfield, which lies between a horse farm and a pine plantation. In fact, a trailer load of waste canisters had recently overturned at the corner of Highway 47 and Dove Street, a mile east of Aitkin. The sheriff had been called, and oily liquid had been cleaned off the pavement with absorbent powder. Work crews had been unloading canisters in the field and ignoring questions from neighbors. But the folks could see that the vehicles carried the name of SarTec Corporation. This activity was out in the middle of the field, hundreds of feet from the township road. Eventually concerns arose in the neighborhood about the safety of nearby water wells, so several of us took a look. We saw yellow and brown oily pools and caked white sludge, beside the freshly excavated and covered pits. That’s when the Environmental Services Department got the word at the courthouse - on Thursday, October 18th. By Monday afternoon, October 22nd, the area had been tilled and all traces of the disturbance had been removed. “No Trespassing” signs were posted. QUESTIONS REMAIN The neighborhood is still trying to find out what chemical compounds are buried in the field which lies in the Shoreland Zone of a 400-acre lake. What is the restoration plan, and what penalties were paid by those responsible for this pollution? The latest word from the authorities is that any answers are considered “non-public information at this time.” “The company has been directed to cease disposing of material at the site.” Last year the hay crop had been defoliated, and some new grasses and sedges were planted. They appeared to be non-edible plants for experimentation with bio-diesel fuels. Stay tuned.