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Goodhue County beefs up silica sand rules

RED WING -- Less than six months after updating the county mining ordinance, the Goodhue County Board voted Thursday to approve a series of amendments strengthening regulations for silica sand operations.

The amendments passed with minor dissention among the five-member board, with commissioners agreeing that more rules were needed to protect residents and the environment before the county mining moratorium expires March 6.

The two most contentious votes were for motions to prohibit silica sand operations within a mile of both populated areas and the high water mark of the Mississippi River. The amendments passed 4-1.

A proposal by citizens group Save the Bluffs originally asked for the one-mile setback to include hamlets and residential subdivisions, but the wording was revised to specifically cover incorporated cities, R1 residential zones and campgrounds.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to ban silica mining within 1,000 feet of certain public waters and prohibit the use of flocculants in mineral processing.