Terça-feira, 18/6/2019 | : : UTC-4
The Reflection

Potash Mine Threatens to Drink 725 Million Gallons of Water a Year

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A Colorado businessman, Theodore Pagano,  takes more than 725 million gallons of mid-Michigan groundwater per year to mine a rich deposit of potash in Evart.

Records show Pagano’s Michigan Potash Co. LLC was approved by state regulators to use roughly 1.98 million gallons of water per day for his mining operation.

The $700 million mining project will withdrawal an amount of water so large it would surpass the quantity Nestle wants to extract from the same watershed three times over, but Pagano says the mine would recycle large quantiles and use less than what is allowed.

Image of small Potash rocks compared to Penny. Photo taken from Wikicommons.

Potash itself is a potassium-rich salt that is used as crop fertilizer. The mine would use thousands of gallons of fresh water to make a hot brine that dissolves potash. Then they will bring the dissolved potash to the surface. All the waste brine would be sent deep into the ground in a form of injection wells.

Pagano, is in his final permitting stages for his potash project, which began in 2013 after he discovered drilling core samples at the Michigan Geological Survey warehouse in Western Michigan University.

The Environmental Protection Agency approved Pagano’s solution mining and injection well permits in 2016 and 2017.

The project is not common knowledge beyond business circles and the local area, as a heated debate grows among residents, as they argue between potential economic benefits against the environmental risk.

The Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation opposes the project, because it would inject sulfide brine underneath aquifers that homeowners use for tap water. The group worries that the injection plan could force brine through rock fissures or old mineral boreholes.

Jeff Osthowski, MCWC vice president, said Pagano’s application is predicated on site data from a nearby mine which is “more than 30 years old.”

Osthowski said the injection wells and manufacturing plant are surrounded by wetlands that could be filled with salty brines by a spill. Osthowski also asked why should he build in the middle of our wetlands when “Pagano has more than 10,000 acres of land?”

Osthowski argues that Pagano’s $30,000 bond for injection and abandonment lets the state off the hook for insurance but offers no protection for property owners.

However, there is no threat to drinking water. The injections will roughly be at 8,000 feet compared to our deepest underground water supply is only at 200 feet.

The public hearing is March 12 in Evart. Public comment deadline is March 19.

Lainie Scott

This is my senior year at Gull Lake High school, and my second year apart of The Reflection staff.  This year I am the feature/entertainment editor, and I am looking forward to see where my writing can take me.


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