The Department of Environmental Quality has granted an additional 30-day extension to its review of Todd Townsend’s application for a gravel mining permit on property located near the intersection of Highway 93 and Bell Crossing Road in the Big Creek area. Townsend seeks a permit that will allow him to take out about 400,000 yards of gravel off of about 10 acres of land.
It has been almost three years since the public meeting on this controversial proposal was held. DEQ is asking Townsend to provide further information about the project in order “to assess substantial issues identified by citizens at the public meeting conducted on December 12, 2017.”
The agency is asking specifically for information required to evaluate concerns that the proposed Plan of Operation does not adequately prove protection of the quality and quantity of the shallow groundwater resources that local residents use for drinking water and domestic needs. According to DEQ, the proposed plan does not adequately convey the interrelation of the pit hydrology to the neighboring Big Creek watershed. Nor does the proposed plan adequately address maintaining the conveyance of irrigation water through the ditches contained within the site or the interrelation of pit hydrology to the ditches.
The agency also notes that public comment identified cultural resources as potentially being impacted, as did the State Historic Preservation Office, and the DEQ archeologist. The agency also states that the proposed plan does not make adequate provision for noise impacts on nearby residential areas.
Townsend was sent notice of these deficiencies on October 2 and given 30 days to respond. This additional extension provides an additional 30 days for a total deficiency review time of 60 days, meaning the information being requested is due by December 6, 2020 or DEQ will issue a Deficiency Notice on the application.