The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is drafting a new general wastewater permit for frac sand mines and processing facilities, saying the most recent existing permit, which expired in 2014, wasn’t designed for large-scale mining and didn't track what companies are adding to their wastewater, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
That permit will cover everything from gravel pits to 1,000-acre frac sand operations. DNR frac sand specialist Roberta Walls said the old rules weren't designed for the scale of mining seen in Wisconsin today.
"Since industrial sand mining has become more prevalent and growing in the state, the department has taken a look at how the size of the operations and the level of process is occurring and felt it was appropriate to split that off into a separate permit," Walls said.
The DNR is catching up with the industry, which has boomed in western Wisconsin in the last eight years, said Jim Devlin, a DNR wastewater specialist. The updated permitting process, he said, is acutely needed.
"We have a lot higher volume of material being washed and we’ve got more additive use than I’m aware of in the past, and our old permit just didn’t allow us to – we didn’t have a way to look at that," Devlin said.