May 20 • 12:12 PM

Brine well may be inevitability in Capac

State Rep. hopes Koehn Farms can find alternate location

January 25, 2017
CAPAC — State Representative Dan Lauwers will continue to monitor the application process for a proposed brine well in Capac but concedes there's little that can be done to stop the project on the village's behalf.

"There's not a whole lot our office can do other than letting the owners know we hope they'd find a better location," said Lauwers, who represents Capac in Michigan's 81st District.

"If the applicant can satisfy the requirements of the EPA and DEQ, they will receive the permit."

Dan Lauwers
Lauwers said this is the first brine well issue he's dealt with in the district and he and his office staff have been in communication with village officials regarding "what answers we were able to get."

Last year, Koehn Farms LLC filed paperwork with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to place a brine disposal well on property along Koehn Road, just east of the McDonald's/BP gas station. Those types of wells are used to store the water and related chemicals used to extract oil from the ground. From all appearances, the waste in this instance would not be generated on site.

Although the well would be located on private property, it would be in close proximity to village-owned land where, in the future, Capac has talked of installing a well and building a water tower. The village notified Lauwers' of their concerns.

As of November, state officials notified the village that the Koehn Farms permit was suspended. Village Attorney Al Francis said then it appeared that the DEQ, specifically it's Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals, was encouraging the permittee to find an alternate location for the well.

The application was prepared by Terry Blake, an agent for Deep River Energy. The surface owner is listed as Clear River Petroleum, LLC.

Lauwers said that the Deep River Energy successfully completed two prior brine well application processes elsewhere in St. Clair County which means they are familiar with what it will take to see a third application through. Both, it appears, are located near I-69 and Wadhams Rd. in Kimball Township.

The representative said he's rather disappointed in the use of the term "farms" in the application. Lauwers grew up on a farm in Mussey Township.

"I know there's no such farm by that name. I think that term is being used for their benefit," he said.

Although he understands the village's concerns regarding the environment and water quality, Lauwers said he is encouraged by the state and federal requirements for the depth of these wells. According to the permit application, Blake states that the intendant total depth of the well is 2,630 feet. Blake estimates that the "base of lowest known fresh water aquifer" is 200 feet.

"The science regarding these wells seems pretty sound and reputable," he said.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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