Friends of Patrick Eagan Park

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-----Original Message-----
From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @]
Sent: Monday, October 6, 2003 1:00 AM
Cc: Ward, John
Subject: Report on Last Week's Public Meeting to Discuss City Water's Proposal to Built Alum-based Holding Pond to Clean Water Entering Fish Lake

Dear Friends of Patrick Eagan Park,

Below is a report from FOPEP member John Ward on last week's public meeting on the proposed alum-treatment pond on three acres of Patrick McCarthy's land (which the City would condemn if it concludes that the project is with merit). Please let us know if you have any questions regarding this issue or would like to get more actively involved.

Thank you,

---Jack Conrad

-----Original Message-----
From: John Ward []
Sent: Thursday, October 02, 2003 11:55 PM
To: Jack G. Conrad
Subject: Alum/Eagan

Friends of Patrick Eagan Park, Jack Conrad and John Ward (and Terry Davis, Margo Danner and Phil Belfiori from our Park Commission), attended a public information meeting yesterday, Oct. 1st, concerning the Fish Lake Alum Program. Background Information: We are all familiar with "pond scum", the excessive alga growth on ponds and lakes in Eagan and almost any body of water in an area that has been developed. The wild growth is from the chemical element phosphorus being transported to, in this case, Fish Lake, (the one on Pilot Knob between City Hall and Town Center) in storm water runoff. Phosphorus is in sediment, grass clippings and a major source in suburbs is lawn fertilizer. The alga growth is not only unsightly; the smell can truly be offensive, and it will lower the dissolved oxygen in the water stressing of even killing fish and other lake life.

Fish Lake History: About seven or eight years ago, Eagan, along with the Minnesota DNR and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency measured the quality of this lake, found it medium and getting worse with time. The study then treated the lake with alum (indirectly by introducing it to neighboring JP-47 to the east). Alum is an aluminum sulfate compound that binds to the problem phosphorus and then sinks in quiet water, and found the water quality measurements improved with treatment and got worse when alum treatment was stopped.

The Proposal: Eric MacBeth, Eagan Water Coordinator, representatives of the DNR, PCA and Barr Engineering all spoke stating alum treatment was an effective treatment for this lake and, to really improve it, a much larger treatment facility should be built close to the first one, in the Denmark Ave neighborhood just north of Wescott . The estimated cost of this facility is almost $1,000,000 for the first five years.

The Problems: The small pond, JP-47, in the Denmark Avenue neighborhood used to hold the aluminum/phosphorus compound formed by this water treatment. It has since then changed from a good wildlife habitat to a "dead zone". Aluminum (as in pop cans) isn't usually a problem but will kill aquatic life in massive amounts like this pond. Neighbors present at this and another meeting we upset by (1) the loss of a natural area, (2) leakage of the compound to another pond and (3) especially a terrible smell. While everyone wants a clean Fish Lake, neighbors felt, I think, that the present small system is detrimental and a larger system built just beside the dead pond may well be much worse. Any body of water used for alum like this has to be drained and dredged about every five years. The sludge has to be dumped in a contained landfill where in cannot leak to surface or ground waters. The expansion would require the city to condemn (this is take by legal means, a kind of glorified stealing) land from Mr. McCarthy's farm to use for the new holding area which is absolutely against his wishes. Mr. McCarthy's still faces litigation concerning some of this land, relating to the death of his brother last year, and a conservation easement surrounds the land that may be condemned making the process a little trickier and costlier.

Comments: FOPEP (John Ward) presented research showing the new no-phosphorus fertilizer required in the seven county metro area starting January of 2004 may reduce stormwater phosphorus by half and discussed availability of effective new environmentally friendly methods to reduce phosphorus in storm water instead of alum and that these are available from the same large firm that may be asked to dig and dredge the big new pit. A company representative at this meeting agreed they have other good alternatives to alum that may be useful in this situation. Jack Conrad also observed that the proposed holding tank approach was developed at a time when it appeared that Mr. McCarthy's land might be developed. Now that it won't, it would seem prudent to reassess the proposal in order to see what else may be leveraged in favor of less intrusive techniques. Jack also suggested that a hybrid approach without the new alum facility could be effective. FOPEP encouraged a study of the best methods to achieve a cleaner Fish Lake. Decisions Made by the City: None at present; a workshop on the topic will likely be scheduled soon. Notes: The $1,000,000 treatment center seems to be the only option on the council table and has been for several years. This council doesn't want to do a study of alum alternatives now but is, I think, quite interested in specific possibilities.

If you have any ideas, concerns, information or whatever on this issue, please email. We hope to give the Mayor and Council good information to help their decision making for this issue.

John Ward

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