Mt. Carmel debate continuesThe debate over Red Wing city officials' plan to buy land at Mt. Carmel Road for disposing of sludge continued during Tuesday's Sustainability Commission meeting.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
The debate over Red Wing city officials' plan to buy land at Mt. Carmel Road for disposing of sludge continued during Tuesday's Sustainability Commission meeting.
Recently, City Council asked the commission to analyze how Red Wing disposes of biosolids - the leftover sludge created during the wastewater treatment process - and to review the city's proposal to buy 340-acre farm at 6063 Mt. Carmel Road for $1.75 million to be used as a disposal site.
For the commission, which was formed in late 2008, this could be its first big challenge.
So far the debate has been civil.
Deputy Director of Utilities Bob Stark said the Mt. Carmel residents have been pleasant when he has explained the city's position. Likewise some have praised Stark for availing himself.
"He's been very helpful to us," John Sachen, 5320 Mt. Carmel Road said Tuesday. "It just happens we have a difference of opinion."
But the debate has also been complex.
Residents question the proposal's financial prudence. And they've asked pointed questions regarding what environmental and health risks injecting sludge into the bluff top might pose.
Meanwhile, city officials have tried to assure residents the practice would be properly regulated and safe and that the purchase is in the city's best interest.
The issue revolves around public works' struggle to store and to dispose of Red Wing's sludge - which is often applied to farms as a fertilizer.
Some of the city's sludge is applied to farms in Vasa and Hay Creek townships, but over the past year Red Wing has needed to ship excess sludge to other communities, which is twice as expensive as land disposal, costing the city $90,000 a year.
That's because the city doesn't have the storage space to make it from spring to fall and from fall to spring, the times of year when sludge is commonly applied to fields.
The commission took no official action Tuesday and will continue to examine the topic.
Public works staff will hold an informational meeting regarding bio-solids application at 3 p.m. Wednesday in the conference room at the Twin Bluff Water Treatment Plant located at 1468 Pioneer Road.