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Pollutant trading for Colfax takes a small step forward

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — Setting up a pollutant trading program for Colfax has moved a small step forward.

Following a recommendation from the Colfax Village Board’s public works committee at a meeting September 20, Rand Bates, public works director, reported at the Colfax Village Board’s September 24 meeting that he had contacted Dunn County about pollutant trading.

Dan Prestebak, Dunn County conservationist, said that since he had not heard anything from Colfax after the meeting a while back with Chris Olson, village trustee, and Mike Boyd, the retired village employee who was responsible for operating the sewer and water utilities, he had not done anything about setting up a pollutant trading program, Bates said.

Boyd retired in December of 2011.

The Village of Colfax must find a way to reduce phosphorus discharge to one milligram per liter by December 31, 2013.

The village’s current wastewater permit sets the level at 9.9 milligrams per liter.

Pollutant trading is one option available to Colfax. Under a pollutant-trading program, the village would pay another municipality — or a certain number of farmers — for reducing their phosphorus discharge by the amount needed that is the equivalent to Colfax being at one milligram per liter.

The Village of Colfax discharges between 1,100 and 1,200 pounds of phosphorus per year into the Red Cedar River.

Prestebak said he would be willing to have the Planning, Resources and Development Committee review the idea of pollutant trading, Bates told the village board.

Barron County also is a possibility for a pollutant trading program, but Bates said he was unable to contact the person he needed to talk to at Barron County on the Friday after the public works committee meeting or on the following Monday, the day of the Colfax Village Board meeting.

Prestebak said he was going to e-mail a letter to Bates that Prestebak had received from the state Department of Natural Resources, Bates said.

Gary Stene, village president, said he had talked to Joe Plouff, the chair of the Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee, about pollutant trading for Colfax.

Barron County would coordinate the pollutant-trading program free of charge. Prestebak said Dunn County most likely would not coordinate the program for free but that the village and the county could discuss and negotiate the cost, Bates said.

The Dunn County land conservation office is currently operating a pilot phosphorus reduction program in the Town of Grant north of Colfax.

At the public works committee meeting on September 20, Jeremiah Wendt, a wastewater engineer with Short Elliott Hendrickson, said pollutant trading would cost the village about $30,000 a year.