Western Wisconsin Town Denies Request To Mine Frac Sand Below Groundwater

There Is No Statewide Standard, DNR, Some Counties Allow It

frac sand mining
MPCA Photos (CC-BY-NC)

A frac sand company in Barron County hoping to mine sand below the groundwater table was rebuffed by a local town board.

Sumner town board Chair Steve Palmquist said Canada-based Source Energy Services wanted to dig into the groundwater for finer and higher quality sand deposits. The company would dredge sand from a pool of groundwater forming in its mine. Palmquist said the board voted unanimously against it.

“When you’re getting that close to the water table things can happen,” Palmquist said. “They haven’t had any problems that they’ve said but it was a gamble that the board just didn’t want to take.”

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Permitting frac sand mining below the groundwater table has been sporadic around the state.

The state Department of Natural Resources doesn’t prohibit the practice, nor do some counties. Three frac sand mines in Monroe County are permitted to mine into groundwater as is one, now shuttered mine, in Barron County.

Source Energy Services didn’t respond to requests for comment on this story.