EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the final of a three-part series on the March 7 meeting of the Fillmore County special committee on silica sand. The first story dealt with geology and water issues. The second dealt with a silica sand mine operator.

The Fillmore County commissioners' special committee on sand held its second meeting March 7 in Preston, in the county boardroom with around 25 people in attendance.

Speakers included Larry Thompson of Reilly Construction of Ossian, Iowa, which operates the John Rein sand mine near Highland in Holt Township, the county's only frac sand mine at this time, and Scot Johnson, a Department of Natural Resources (DNR) groundwater specialist for southeastern Minnesota out of the Lake City office.

Frac mining

John Grindeland, Fillmore County engineer, said he had recently attended the Region 6 Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) engineers meeting.

He noted that all 11 county engineers hope to see any regulations put in place for traffic and roads be done uniformly.

Phil Wheeler, Olmsted County planner, had addressed some tentative changes in that county's ordinance. They would address traffic generation in the county proposed - from residential to quarry - and would have a discussion with planners.

Running more than 30 trucks a day would require them to do a transportation plan. Grindeland said for a quarry it's hard to know where a product goes, but for frac sand the same route would be used all the time.

Enforcing weight limits was a recommended requirement, as was having a scale. The weight should match at the source and at the destination. Zoning administrator Chris Graves said if scales are put in, they should be used by gravel pits, too. "So maybe we are focusing on quantity?" he asked.

With some sand stockpiled, Grindeland didn't know if the area would see 100 or 15 loads a day running. Also, counties could request a performance bond to cover any damage to roads that are used as routes.

Grindeland felt Winona County, which is looking mostly at transportation issues, is looking at setting up a fee of so much per ton.

Richard Frick, a mine operator who has an application in with Randy Boyum for a mine on his land in northern Pilot Mound Township - next to Saratoga Township in Winona County - said Winona had told him to run 70 loads a day out of one site and pay 4 to 6 cents a ton, which is the same as Buffalo County in Wisconsin.

One oft-stated Winona County piece of information from that study is that a road with a life of 20 years might only last two years with sand trucks running on it.

Frick stated of road concerns in general, "If the road wasn't made right, whose fault is that?"

The next meeting of the sand committee was scheduled for March 28 at the county boardroom in Preston.