Ikes, public ask county board to reinstate environmental position

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Area conservationists don’t agree with the county’s decision to eliminate a position they think is very important for Mower’s water quality.

Earlier this year, the Mower County Board combined environmental services and the highway department into a public works department, which eliminated the position of the last-remaining environmental health worker: Bill Buckley.

Jim Stiles, president of the local Izaak Walton League chapter, along with several others, expressed their concerns Tuesday at the board’s meeting. Stiles and others asked the board on Tuesday to rescind its decision to eliminate the position, as they believe rural septic systems that cause direct pollution are a concern that would be overlooked. Though the board plans to privately contract services regarding environmental concerns, others aren’t so sure that move will be effective — environmentally or cost-wise.

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Nature Center Director Larry Dolphin cited already-overlooked problems of E.Coli bacteria flowing through Dobbins Creek, and others voiced their concerns, as well.

Harlan Peck, a contractor, said contracted services likely won’t work. He pointed to other counties where money wasn’t saved.

“Dodge County tried this, and it did not work out for them,” he said, and mentioned they spent more money.

He raised other concerns, as well.

“When Bill is gone, there will be nobody in the county with an MPCA (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) license.” Peck said.

Peck believes without an employee with that license, the county risks liabilities by performing services outside the state’s guidelines.

As a contractor, Peck also said he wouldn’t want to report to the county about whose septic systems aren’t within regulations, something another contractor agreed with Tuesday.

“As a contractor, you don’t want the reputation that you’re turning people in,” he said.

Board members said they could save money, however, as testing and searching for pollution problems can only be done in the warmer months. Locals disagreed and further cited how the position is important all year.

Board members didn’t schedule a motion to further address the issue.