More Lutsen - Poplar River Issue

We recently contacted State representative, C. McFarlane, looking for some clarity on the passed bill regarding the Lutsen Resort water consumption bill.

McFarlane informed us that the bill they passed will,  for the the first time, limit the resort's use of water from the stream.  Once that annual allocated limit is met, water will not be allowed to be pumped for the remainder of that that year.  She also stated that the permit issued to Lutsen has a 5 year time limit to look for a long term solution. 

Below is the language from the conference committee report:
53.11Pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.265, subdivision 3, the legislature
53.12approves of the consumptive use of water under a permit of more than 2,000,000 gallons
53.13per day average in a 30-day period in Cook County, in connection with snowmaking
53.14and potable water. Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, the permit for the
53.15consumptive use of water approved under this section shall be issued, subject to the
53.16fees specified under Minnesota Statutes, section 103G.271, without any additional
53.17administrative process to withdraw up to 150,000,000 gallons of water annually for
53.18snowmaking and potable water purposes. The permit authorized under this section shall
53.19be suspended if the flow of the Poplar River falls below 15 cubic feet per second for more
53.20than five consecutive days. The permit authorized under this section shall be reinstated
53.21when the flow of the Poplar River resumes to 15 cubic feet per second or greater. The
53.22permit shall be for a term of five years.

In our email correspondence to Rep. McFarlane we also asked what studies or reports were cited that show that the amount of approved water usage will have no impact to the watershed or fishery.  We were referred to Rep. Dill to answer that question.  We will post any reports or studies that surface from Rep Dill.

To all our readers, we welcome constructive comments to our posts, but as stated in the previous posts we are not going political on this. we plan to be rational and get all the facts. If the facts state harm to the fishery is possible, then let's fight with all we have.  Republican, Independent, Democrat does not matter here.  In a fight you are either with us and the fishery or against us. It will be that simple from Minnesota Steelheader. 

To those that have commented and stated you are not political, then proceed to negatively name one political party 3 times in a single paragraph... well, as you can see your comments are not published.... sorry.  Keep it real and we will happily share your thoughts with our readers.  Keep it political and your letters and paragraphs will evaporate into the cyber abyss.  Not fair?  Come on guys! 

In the mean time we will continue to track this frustrating issue and do our best to bring unbiased clarity to our reports. 


NMF said…
Couple Items:

Little concerned about the proposed language just for the simple fact that 15CFS is really low, even for the Poplar. That and we're talking about winter presumably. So if the flow hypothetically went to 0cfs for 4 days during a stretch of -10, seems like the potential for freezeout would be extreme. And that would occur before the 5 day threshold was met to stop drawdown or withdrawal.

Second item - Math guys/gals help me out here. I ran the historical flow numbers for the Poplar such as I have. My assumption would be November 1st - April 30th for snowmaking= 182 days. 150 million gallons per annum during a 6 month period is 825176 gallons per day or 34341 gallons per hour.

Poplar mean flow for those months is as follows: January> 33cfs/888,686gph, February> 27cfs/727,107gph, March> 28cfs/754,036gph, April> 133cfs/3,581,673gph, November> 79cfs/2,127,460gph, December> 374cfs/1,346,494gph

So say they took all of their daily water at once: Jan=2.42cfs (Surplus), Feb=-3.6cfs (defecit), Mar=-2.7cfs, April=102.41cfs, Nov=48.4cfs, Dec=19.39cfs.

If they took their daily water allowed over 24hrs (34,341gph): Jan=32cfs, Feb=26cfs, Mar=27cfs, Apr=132cfs, Nov=78cfs, Dec=49cfs. What's interesting is those numbers are almost exactly a 1cfs reduction in flow vs. the monthly mean if you carried that out to a daily value.

Couple important questions to answer:

What's the minimum flow threshold necessary to support the entire food chain (micro/macroinvertebrates, aquatic plants etc.), native brook species (darters etc.), up to and including trout and migratory fish (Steelhead, coho, chinook, pinks and coasters) at any point below the pumping station(s)?

Does water withdrawal affect Ph levels, particularly with regards to acid shock due to rapid snowmelt etc?

What are the 3, 5 and 10 year maximum, mean and minimum historical water withdrawal rates for snowmaking at Lutsen?

I'm sure more questions will come to mind. Feel free to chime in...
Zaniel said…
If Lutsen only took 150mil gallons/182 days every day of the season, there would probably not be a problem.

But, they are getting a special permit which allows them to take "more than 2 million gallons per day average in a 30-day period." In other words, this permit is only necessary if they expect to take AT LEAST 60 million gallons in some 30-day period, even if they are ultimately "limited" to 150 million gallons for the year. (I use quotes because they have drawn 5 to 10 times their "limits" for the last decade. I don't see any reason why now is the time for them to start complying. They are more likely only limited by how fast they can pump and how many new routes they can cover with snow.)

15cfs is the Q90 for February, the lowest flow month of the year. (The year-round Q90 is 21cfs.) 15cfs = 9.7 million gallons per day. At that rate, it will take 6+ days for 60 million gallons of water to flow past Lutsen's pumps.

Remember, 60 million gallons is not their LIMIT for the month. This permit and legislation is not even necessary unless they foresee taking MORE than 60 million gallons in a month. If Lutsen goes for a long enough time without fresh snow, they could decide the need to use 70. . . 75. . . 90 million gallons in a month.

When the Poplar is flowing at an extremely low 9.7 million gallons per day, Lutsen can essentially draw as much water as they want for the next 5 days with impunity. Think they can get close to drawing 48.5 million gallons (9.7mil x 5) in 5 days? Not that they would need to draw anywhere near that much before a freezeout would occur.
NMF said…

All great points. I only ran the snowmaking scenario because that's the only usage we have a seemingly good handle on.

What we don't know, and what I'd really like to see are the other actual water usages in combination with snowmaking. Again those being 3, 5 and 10 year maximum, mean and minimum historical water withdrawal rates. (I mis-typed in my original post, it should have said all water consumption, not just for snowmaking.) They talk about "Potable" water which implies year-round pumping, but can still be a pretty amorphous term depending on what they do with that water once they get it.

Zaniel- Just curious... What's the source of your exceedence numbers?


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