Battle for frac sand in Buffalo Co. - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Battle for frac sand in Buffalo Co.


ALMA, WI, (KTTC) -- An action hearing for the Seven Sands group that's looking to create a new mine in the Rural Alma area.  Seven Sands is a group of farmers that got together and sold their sand to a company called Glacier Sands.

Thursday evening Buffalo County officials met to decide the proposals future. The Seven Sands permit application calls for an increase of up to 390 trucks per day on this County Highway 88.

At the Alma High School both sides of the argument were heard.

"We support the sand industry as a general... as a whole. It's going to be good for the county. It's good for the communities. Buffalo County Needs the economic investment," said supporter Dennis Bork.

You could draw a line through the crowd... as supporters, like Bork, wore neon T-shirts.  "Buffalo County is in dire need of industry. And sand is the industry of choice at this point," he said.

However on the other side of the argument, the proposal raises concerns about groundwater use and storm water run-off into Little Waumandee Creek.

Area resident Dennis LeMasters says this year's area corn yield is strong because of good soils and doesn't want to decimate that.

"There's really no reason on Earth to take these soils out of production.  And also, the sandstone they are considering mining acts as a filter for ground water," said LeMasters.

And then they're were those somewhere in the middle.

"If people say sand mining will have no impact, they are lying," said Professor of Geology at UW - Eau Claire Kent Syverson.  "If people say sand mining will be the end of the world, they are grossly exaggerating."

If the action fails a conditional use permit will be declined for Seven Sands.

And if it passes.

"Basically they have to get a reclamation plan through the county," said Buffalo County Zoning Technician Jacob Sedivy.  "They have to get their air and storm water permits through the DNR. And any other permits that are needed for the mining operation."

Hundreds of Buffalo County residents showed up just two weeks ago regarding a proposed frac sand processing and rail spur near the Cochrane-Fountain City school.

That permit application was denied.

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