Steve Giorgi
Executive Director
Phone: 218-780-8877
Email: SGiorgi@ramsmn.org

Image "Hull Rust" by Amy Flanigan

RAMS hearing 1940

Scheuring Speed Sports Aurora, MN photo by Paul Pluswick

Commissioner Mark Phillips 2015 Annual RAMS Meeting Vice President Jim Fisher /Director Steve Giorgi

Kawishiwi Falls - Ely MN photo by Adrian Koski 2016

Cuyuna

Tower Airport photo by Adrian Koski

Moon over Queen City photo created by Matt Herberg

RAMS delegation with Senator Klobuchar

2016 Press conference on US Forest Service - Virginia, MN

Mayor Novak Ely Whiteside Park

Pioneer Mine Ely MN photo by Adrian Koski

MPCA HEARING ON NEW WILD RICE/SULFATE STANDARD:

The MPCA has scheduled a “rules making hearing” on their newly developed and proposed standard for protection of wild rice as well as how they have identified the “wild rice waters” that need additional protection for continuing harvest of wild rice by humans or wildlife.  The hearing will be held at the auditorium of Mesabi Community College on October 4th at 4:00 pm.

A community and industry rally will be held just prior to the hearing across from the college on the east side, at the Kline Cuppoletti Park facility.  Speakers from our mining industry, as well as labor, local officials and others will provide their perspective on the proposed new standard and the problems they have determined with the science behind the standard.  Please plan on attending the 3:00 pm rally and walk with us in solidarity to the hearing.  Park on the south or west side of the college.

NEWEST MEMBERS TO JOIN RAMS:

RAMS has made it a priority to grow our membership this year. When we promote our association using our motto; “ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE” we want to be as big and as powerful as we have ever been and you can help us achieve that goal and make our voice even stronger.  The newest members are CLINTON TOWNSHIP,  LONE PINE TOWNSHIP AND NORTHLAND LEARNING CENTER on the public sector side and POLYMET; MESABI METALLICS, LAKEHEAD CONTRACTORS, LARKIN & HOFFMAN and the IRON MINING ASSOCIATION on the corporate membership side.  The board of directors and I will be working on new memberships throughout  the year.  If you have any questions please call or email me.  218-780-8877 or sgiorgi@ramsmn.org.   On behalf of the board, I thank you for joining our ranks.  “ONE RANGE – ONE VOICE “ 

Fostering economic development across Minnesota’s Iron Range

One Range… One Voice

Ensuring the voices of our Range cities, townships, and schools will be heard on the issues of economic enhancement and quality of life.

Serving Cities, Townships and Schools since 1939.

The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) was created in 1939 by the joining together of the Range Civic Association and the Range Municipalities Committee to promote legislation beneficial to its membership.
The main function of RAMS is to monitor proposed State and Federal legislation and determine how it may affect Association member units of government. The Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) works closely with the Iron Range Delegation, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) , and area economic development entities to further community development and quality of life for all member units.


 

Nashwauk, MN Mayor

Nashwauk Mayor – Ben DeNucci

Message From the Board:

“One Range – One Voice” is the motto of RAMS. In my experience as a board member, no motto is more fitting for this organization. Led by our President Paul Kess and directed by the dedicated work of Steve Giorgi, RAMS is a valuable resource to the school boards, townships, and cities of the Iron Range. Whether lobbying on member’s behalf at the State Capital, rallying our citizens at important events, or hosting educational seminars for members at the NESC, RAMS continues to contribute to the viability of its members. The Rural – Metro divide is real and growing. We are fortunate to have a group like RAMS ensure our voice is heard.

 

Message From Director

Science or Fiction on Wild Rice?

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has initiated the "rules making" process prior to implementation of a new standard in regards to revising the state water quality standards that apply to wild rice waters and will be proposing rules that:
*establish an equation for determining a protective sulfate value for wild rice waters
*identify the wild rice waters in Minnesota.
Minnesota is the only state in the nation that currently has a Wild Rice/Sulfate standard. Granted few states actually have natural stand of wild rice, as it is native to the upper midwest. However, neither Michigan or Wisconsin has found it necessary to establish a standard or take extreme protective measures over wild rice. Let it be understood, I appreciate the value and cultural importance of wild rice and hope that Minnesota continues to invest in research and environmental actions that will allow a continued healthy harvest of natural wild rice. What we must all accept is that the Minnesota state standard established in 1940 was not based on great science and even the MPCA has acknowledged that by rarely enforcing the 10 mg/L standard.

Now, the MPCA has released the findings of their research and here are a few of the pearls contained in the report: "The analysis of Study data thus far has documented:
"That sulfate is not directly toxic to wild rice."
"We know that treating sulfate pollution is expensive. Because the standard is site specific and tailored to the need of each wild rice water, it's far too early to say how much it will cost in the state or how particular industries may be affected"
"Physical treatment of sulfate using a Reverse Osmosis (RO) polishing process is the most feasible treatment alternative for municipal WWTP."
"The knowledge infrastructure to design a full-scale municipal wastewater plant with sulfate treatment in Minnesota does not currently exist and would have to be developed before a full-scale treatment plant could be constructed".

This is a report brimming with anecdotal statements, innuendo and hyperbole, buried in a mountain of possible solutions, with an ultimatum that if industry and communities were to invest billions of dollars they still cannot guarantee more or the same level of wild rice growth in our state.

So what can be done about this? There will be a "rules making hearing" at the Mesabi Community College auditorium on October 24th starting at 4:00 pm. An Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing so your statement will become part of the official rules making process. You can also comment on line at the MPCA's website, but the process to submit a comment is very cumbersome and trying. Call your local state legislator and ask them to speak up on this matter, send a message to the Governor.

I asked the engineers at SEH, the company that works with the City of Hoyt Lakes, for an estimate of the cost of a treatment system for the city. The daily volume of wastewater treated at Hoyt Lakes is about 625,000 gallons per day. A RO system would entail, pre-filtration to minimize clogging the RO filtration system, and then most like some method of dehydration of the brine - so effectively a 3 step process. Based on the unknowns in such an equation the best estimate is capitol costs between $3 - 5 million dollars and an annual operating cost of between $500,000 to $900,000.00. The current annual operating costs for the City of Hoyt Lakes for their wastewater treatment is $245,500.00 with residential user fee of $35 per month. Based on the above analysis, on the high end the city would have to triple their user fee to nearly $100 per month to treat for wild rice/sulfate and again that is dependent upon the level set by the MPCA for their discharge permit, and the brine being landfilled locally, not at a hazardous waste site.

RAMS will be loud and vocal on this matter, as again we care and advocate for our region, our communities, our schools and our future generations. How does bankrupting our small communities benefit anyone in the state? If we force mining companies to make a decision to continue to mine our rich ore bodies, or to buy it on the open market from foreign mining companies, does that place the domestic steel industry in peril of closing? We need common sense, and real science that stands up to peer review that will result in a proven outcome, not speculation and hopeful assumptions. Last session, Representative Ecklund was successful in passing legislation that gave the MPCA another year to get this issue resolved. Let's use the time wisely and explore all options and focus on the ones that are readily available, affordable and practical.

 



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