BLUE EARTH - The pipeline moratorium in Faribault County is almost a year old and commissioners soon will decide whether to extend it another year.
The moratorium was approved last March during a heated debate involving Faribault County and Buffalo Lake Energy of Fairmont. Buffalo Lake proposed building a 17-mile pipeline to discharge wastewater from the ethanol plant into the Blue Earth River. Commissioners OK'd the moratorium, stressing it was not directed at Buffalo Lake but concerned with wastewater in general.
When the moratorium passed, the board charged Michelle Stindtman, director of Faribault County Soil and Water, with investigating the impact wastewater has on bodies of water in Faribault County.
On Tuesday, Stindtman reminded the board the moratorium will run out next month if it is not extended. She said her study is ongoing and her team is drafting an ordinance. The problem, she said, is there is no other ordinance of its type out there to use as a guideline.
Stindtman also informed the board that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources still have not made a decision on whether to reissue Buffalo Lake a new wastewater permit. The old one expired in June 2011.
Stindtman asked commissioners to extend the moratorium for another year at their meeting in March.
"I think we should extend it," said Commissioner Tom Loveall.
"We want to get it right," said Commissioner Greg Young.
"If it isn't done properly, it could be challenged in court," added Commissioner Bill Groskreutz. "Even if it is done properly."
Turning to other business, commissioners learned four cities in the county have been chosen to take part in a state housing rehabilitation program, said Linsey Warmka, director of Faribault County Development Corporation.
The cities are Elmore, Minnesota Lake, Kiester and Bricelyn. They were chosen because a higher number of people there have used the program in the past.
The county wanted to get eight cities into the program, but more than 60 applied and the repairs would have totaled more than $42 million.
In other county news:
o Big Blue Wind Farm has revised its avian and bat protection plan, which includes monitoring, Stindtman said.
"Foundations, collection system and the Big Blue portion of the substation are completed," she added.
The turbines are ordered, and the project is waiting on delivery.
o The board approved a resolution to support Waseca County Farm Service Agency.
Waseca County is petitioning the federal government to keep its office, said Commissioner Tom Warmka. He said a few years ago, the Faribault County FSA was scheduled to close. Faribault County, with help from Waseca County and others, fought to keep it open.
The offices are needed, Warmka said, adding that each farmer averages six visits annually.