Take a look at this article about Lake Albert just published in the scientific journal, Biological Conservation.
Biological Conservation, Volume 220
Nathan R.Senner Johnnie N.Moore TrentSeager SteveDougill KeithKreuz Stanley E.Senner
Abstract: Saline lakes are threatened globally and provide critical habitat for a diverse array of migratory and breeding waterbirds. The ability of large numbers of waterbirds to profitably use saline lakes is primarily dependent upon concentrations of invertebrate fauna that are only present within a narrow range of salinities. Additionally, waterbirds themselves can incur steep physiological costs as their salt loads increase, meaning that they are especially sensitive to changes in salinity. Nonetheless, relatively little is known about ecosystem function within natural saline lakes or how birds will respond to fluctuations in salinity across time, hindering efforts to maintain ecologically functional saline ecosystems. To help address this gap, we coupled data from waterbird surveys undertaken across 25 years at Lake Abert, Oregon, USA with data on lake area (a proxy for salinity) and invertebrate abundance to document how waterbird numbers changed in response to variation in lake area and the presence of their invertebrate prey. We found that as the area of Lake Abert decreased and salinity increased, both invertebrate and waterbird numbers declined, with especially high salinities associated with the presence of few waterbirds and invertebrates. However, we also found that at high lake levels and low salinities the abundance of most waterbirds and invertebrates either plateaued or declined as well. Our study reinforces physiological studies showing that both invertebrates and waterbirds can only tolerate a narrow range of salinities, and is among the first to document the effects of this tolerance range at the ecosystem level. As anthropogenic water usage increases and snowfall decreases in the coming century, Great Basin saline lakes are projected to increasingly face water shortages and high salinities. Conserving saline lake ecosystems thus requires mitigating these losses and maintaining water levels and salinities within the normal range of inter-annual variation. When conditions outside of this range occur too frequently or persist too long, they can result in dysfunctional ecosystems with deleterious consequences for the species that rely on them.
Click here to access the entire paper: A Salt Lake Under Stress
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake is accepting artistic representations of Great Salt Lake in the categories of visual art, literary art, sound, and movement for consideration for the 5th annual Alfred Lambourne Prize. The Alfred Lambourne Arts Program celebrates the relationship between local artists and our Inland Sea. Through art, we are able to enhance our understanding of Great Salt Lake and build awareness about our need to preserve and protect it.
This year, we will offer $500 prizes to winners in each of the four artistic categories (visual art, literary art, sound, and movement). Finalists in each category will be invited to display and/or perform their work during the gallery opening and reception on September 7, 2018 at the Sorenson Unity Center Gallery and Blackbox Theatre.
Click here for more information and to submit your work. The submission period will close May 15th
by Leia Larsen, Standard Examiner. Photo by Benjamin Zach
Could an inland port opening on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake potentially benefit a landfill looking to open to the north, on Promontory Point? The two sites seemed linked by a lot more than their proximity to the lake.
A bill rushed through the end of the 2018 Utah Legislative Session created an Inland Port Authority to oversee construction and operation of one of the largest international trade hubs in the nation’s interior. Gov. Gary Herbert inked the bill and made it law Friday, despite pleas from Salt Lake City officials and Salt Lake County residents for his veto.
Meanwhile, operators of Promontory Point Resources and its parent company, ALLOS Environmental, are building a large landfill facility on Promontory Point a few thousand feet from the Great Salt Lake near the Union Pacific causeway.
PPR has already invested millions in the site, so it came as a surprise when the company seemingly abandoned its plans to seek out-of-state waste last month by suddenly withdrawing an application for Class V status.
It seems the Class V permit may have been denied anyway, since a March 1 report by a consultant for the Department of Environmental Quality found no need for another Class V landfill in Utah.
PPR representatives tried to block that report from becoming public. The landfill owners also claimed they are focusing on developing the site under the existing Class I permit.
February 14, 2018
Scott T. Anderson
Director Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
P.O. Box 144880
Salt Lake City, UT 84114-4880
firstname.lastname@example.org submitted via email only Re: Public Comment on Promontory Point Landfill Modification
Dear Director Anderson,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed modification to the Promontory Point Resources, LLC Landfill monitoring wells. We make these comments on behalf of FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake and Sierra Club, which are greatly concerned about the level of subjectivity in the location of the monitoring wells, and respectfully requests that the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control withhold any permit modification or approval until it is determined whether the placement of the wells would allow the wells to perform their intended function of detecting the release of contaminants.
FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake (FRIENDS) is a non-profit organization that has, as its mission, the preservation and protection of the Great Salt Lake ecosystem as well as Great Salt Lake’s watershed, and the organization seeks to increase public awareness and appreciation of the Lake through education, research, advocacy, and the arts. The organization has long been involved in the protection and restoration of Great Salt Lake, its ecosystems and its watershed, advocating for ways in which the public may enjoy these resources by fishing, bird-watching, boating, photographing, hiking and studying these natural areas. On behalf of its members, FRIENDS frequently participates in agency processes that affect Great Salt Lake. FRIENDS considers this participation to be critical to its mission and to be valuable as a means of influencing the administration of lands that will lead to the protection and preservation of the Greater Great Salt Lake watershed.
As America’s largest grassroots environmental organization, the Sierra Club has more than 3.5 million members and supporters nationwide and more than 5,600 members living in Utah. In addition to helping people of all backgrounds have meaningful outdoor experiences, the Sierra Club works to preserve and restore our remaining wild places, to promote the responsible use of the Earth’s resources and ecosystems, and to safeguard the 2 health of communities through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation.
Promontory Point Resources, LLC seeks to modify its existing Class I Permit for the Promontory Point Resources, LLC Landfill after constructing the landfill over the top of at least two of the originally-approved monitoring well sites. The Public Notice Provided purports that the well locations will meet the 500 foot requirements of Utah Code Ann. R315-308-2(2), but there is no agency analysis to show that conclusion to be accurate. Before approving the new monitoring well locations, the Division should independently determine whether the wells are no further than 500 feet from the boundary of the landfill. Further, Utah Code Ann. R315-308-2(2) requires that the placement of groundwater monitoring wells be at "appropriate locations to yield samples from the uppermost aquifer and all hydraulically connect aquifers” and that the downgradient wells are installed at the "closest practicable distance hydraulically down gradient from the unit boundary not to exceed 150 meters (500 feet)”. There is no analysis or evidence to establish that these additional requirements of Utah Code Ann. R315-308-2(2) have been met.
Utah Code Ann R315-308-2 requires a complete and comprehensive groundwater monitoring program, not merely monitoring wells. The Class I permit currently includes such a groundwater monitoring program based on the locations of the previouslyapproved groundwater monitoring well sites. There needs to be review and analysis of the current groundwater monitoring program to determine whether that program needs to be revised based on the fact that the monitoring wells require relocation. Such analysis should be performed before any relocation of monitoring wells is approved.
Additionally, even if the proposed well locations meet the minimum distance requirements of Utah Code Ann. R315-308-2(2), due to the subsurface geology of the area around the proposed landfill the proposed wells may not actually perform their intended function – to detect the release of contaminants. Recall that Utah Code Ann. R315-308-2(2) requires that the placement of groundwater monitoring wells be at "appropriate locations to yield samples from the uppermost aquifer and all hydraulically connect aquifers” and that the downgradient wells are installed at the "closest practicable distance hydraulically down gradient from the unit boundary not to exceed 150 meters (500 feet)”. There is a great amount of subjectivity in where the wells should be placed, and their locations should be selected only after careful review and consideration of the site in order to ensure compliance with Utah Code Ann. R315-3082(2). The fact that some of the originally –approved wells were constructed over further demonstrates the need to carefully consider the subjective location of these monitoring wells. Accordingly, 3 before issuing a final permit, the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control should require additional study and review of the proposed sites for the monitoring wells, to be undertaken and paid for by the Promontory Point Resources, LLC; to determine whether the proposed wells will function as intended.
The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council (GSLAC), in correspondence dated January 10, 2018, and previously submitted to the Division (Exhibit A, attached); Compass Minerals, in correspondence dated December 15, 2017 and previously submitted to the Division (Exhibit B, attached); and Dr. Bonnie Baxter, Director Great Salt Lake Institute, Westminster College in correspondence dated January 31, 2018 and previously submitted to the Division (Exhibit C, attached), emphasize the need for better hydro-geologic data pertaining to the landfill and in order to protect groundwater from contamination. All three letters are included with these comments.
Dr. Baxter’s letter, (See, Exhibit C) identifies hydrogeological concerns and the lack of data on page two, stating specifically:
● Lack of information on groundwater connection between landfill and lake: The landfill site is in close proximity to the waters of Great Salt Lake, and the groundwater connections from the site to the lake have not been well-researched to my knowledge. This is critical; there is potential of groundwater flow from upland areas on Promontory Point to documented, proximal lakebed spring systems into this unique and significant ecosystem. This would be a potential preferential pathway for leachate should it escape undetected into groundwater or fracture sets in bedrock beneath the proposed landfill. I also have concerns about the lack of groundwater quality data and the placement of monitoring wells. Will the monitoring wells monitor both alluvium bedrock groundwater? A deeper understanding is necessary in the area of the landfill in order to protect against potential landfill leachate.
● Microbialite density suggests groundwater connection between landfill and lake: Microbialites (e.g. stromatolites, “bioherms,” “biostromes”) are structures precipitated on the lake floor by microorganisms that photosynthesize and power the lake’s ecosystem by producing energy and turning over nutrients (e.g. Lindsay, M. R., et al. "Microbialite response to an anthropogenic salinity gradient in Great Salt Lake, Utah." Geobiology 15.1 (2017): 131-145). These are feeding stations for brine fly pupae, which are eaten by diving birds (e.g. ducks, phalaropes). For these reasons and others, microbialites are a key focal point of understanding the lake ecology.
Current models of microbialite formation, in sites around the world, suggest that they form where groundwater seeps occur as the groundwater would be necessary to bring calcium and form the calcium carbonate material. The microbialite structures in Great 4 Salt Lake are the densest on the shallow shelfs bounded by faults as the water depth changes. This suggests that the major faults under Great Salt Lake, to the west of the landfill site, may be seeping groundwater. As these faults are fairly close to the western shore of Promontory Point (~4,000 meters), it is possible that groundwater that recharges on the upland Promontory Point discharges, at least partially, via these faults.
The Great Salt Lake Alliance Council listed the following concerns in its correspondence, (See, Exhibit A):
• Sufficiency of existing studies to determine the scope and potential migration of leachate generated by stored waste at the facility; specifically for long term storage and degradation of liners over time and the potential environmental consequences of leaks to Great Salt Lake;
• The adequacy of plans and infrastructure designed to collect leachate from waste and ensure that it does not contaminate groundwater, endanger wildlife, or enter the lake; both now and into the future. • Given the density difference of leachate and GSL water, there are concerns that leachate would ‘float to the top’, thus creating a toxic surface lens;
• The potential for containment failure, particularly as it relates to earthquakes, subsidence, seiche waves, and liner degradation over time;
• Design standard adequacy in this environment to handle runoff equal to or greater than a 100-year rain event;
• Sufficiency of plan design to address fractured bedrock beneath the site and movement of groundwater through it, which creates natural pathways for leachate and associated toxins to contaminate groundwater and for that contamination to spread;
GSLAC then requested that the Division complete further studies (See, Exhibit C): “[T]o determine the full extent of the risks and the adequacy of the measures designed to address them. Those studies include a more extensive study of groundwater movement on Promontory and how this facility could affect ground and surface water resources, as well as the adequacy of the facility t 5 capture and process leachate; (ii) prevent the escape of fugitive waste and other debris; (iii) prevent fly ash or other toxic dust from entering the environment from the landfill or from transportation to the landfill; and (iv) withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, seiche waves which have occurred, and will likely occur again in this area, as well as degradation of the liners over time.”
Compass Minerals correspondence posed three questions related to groundwater and the potential for contamination, specifically relating to a potential pathway for contaminants from the landfill to the lake via the lakebed springs:
• Have groundwater fate and transport studies that have been conducted or will need to be conducted as part of the Promontory Landfill’s request integrated the presence of these springs within the near-shore lakebed into the project scope?
• Has the source area for the springs on the GSL lakebed been assessed to determine whether the recharge area for the springs is beneath or near the proposed Promontory landfill?
• If so, is there is a nexus between the recharge area and the springs that creates a preferential pathway from landfill leachate sources to the GSL lakebed in near proximity to the termination of Compass Minerals Behrens Trench on the southwest tip of Promontory Point?
The correspondence from Dr. Baxter, Compass Minerals, and GSLAC are representative of the importance of understanding the hydrogeology of the area in order to protect water quality and Great Salt Lake itself from pollution and other potential contaminants that may be discharged or leak from Promontory Point Resources, LLC’s Class I landfill located on Promontory Point.
Additionally, in any decision of the well locations herein, we respectfully request that the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control consult with the Division of Water Quality regarding Promontory Point Resources recent and repeated flooding of the County road on the Southwest boundary of the landfill, on or near the proposed relocation of the monitoring wells. It is unclear whether this relates to Promontory Point Resources’ storm water permit and pollution plan, but whether or not it is related, there exists real questions as to whether the storm water pollution plan and retention pond, and whether those will have any effect on the proposed location of the groundwater 6 monitoring wells. Attached you will please find two photographs of the flooding taken in January of 2018 by Young Brothers Livestock; Exhibit D.
There is also concern that the Needs Assessment Addendum for Promontory Point Resources, LLC’s Class V permit application is included with the groundwater monitoring wells relocation proposal. As the Class V permitting process is proceeding and the Needs Assessment is a portion of that application, it should not be considered as part of any Class I Permit Modification, and we respectfully request that the Division not consider the Needs Assessment Addendum for the Class V landfill application or any material contained therein when considering this requested modification for a Class I landfill permit. The Division has not reviewed or approved the Needs Assessment Addendum in conjunction with the Class I Permit Modification, and should make that clear as part of its decision whether to permit the proposed well relocations.
Due to the great subjectivity of the well placement, the flooding issues, and the complex subsurface geology of Promontory Point, the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control should not approve this permit unless and until it can be determined the wells will in fact be located in the proper place to actually detect contaminants from the proposed landfill. Merely locating the wells within 500 feet of the waste boundary of the proposed landfill site is not enough to ensure that meaningful monitoring will actually occur. Due to the great subjectivity of the wells location within the 500 foot requirement, additional information is required.
Thank you kindly for your time and attention to this matter.
Very Truly Yours,
Ariel C. Calmes, staff attorney Western Resource Advocates
Andrea Issod Senior Attorney Sierra Club Environmental Law
PROMONTORY POINT LANDFILL
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you tell me a little more about the Promontory Point Landfill?
The landfill is located on the west side of the southern peninsula tip of Promontory Point. It currently holds a Class I solid waste permit initially issued by DEQ in March 2004. The landfill is the only privately owned landfill in the state. Although Promontory Point LLC hasn’t secured a contract with a local governmental entity or received any waste to date, the company recently broke ground on the 2,000 acre site and plans to begin operations in Fall 2018. The site includes 1,000 acres for disposal bounded by a 1,000 acre buffer area.
What’s the difference between a Class I and a Class V permit?
Class I Permit
Class I landfills are noncommercial facilities that can accept municipal solid waste, commercial waste, industrial waste, construction/demolition waste, special waste such as incinerator ash, and conditionally exempt small-quantity generator hazardous waste. A Class I permit requires that, among other things, a facility meets the following conditions before it can accept waste:
Class V Permit
Class V landfills can accept the same wastes approved under Class I permits, but there are some key differences:
Because Class V landfills can accept regional waste, there is a greater likelihood that higher volumes of special wastes such as asbestos, ash, coal combustion residual (CCR or coal ash), bulk wastes, PCB-containing wastes, petroleum-contaminated soils, and waste asphalt could be disposed in the landfill, as these wastes are typically produced in smaller quantities or not produced at all in many local jurisdictions.
What is the permit history for the site?
Class I Permit
Class V Permit
What is a Needs Assessment?
State statute requires the submission of a Needs Assessment for Class V landfills. The Director of DWMRC may not approve a solid waste operation plan unless it includes the following evidence to support the application:
What are the next steps?
The Class I permit modification to relocate the downgradient monitoring wells is out for public comment. DWMRC will consider public comments in its decision-making on the permit modification.
DWMRC is currently reviewing the Needs Assessment Addendum for the Class V permit application.
Promontory Point LLC can begin accepting waste under its Class I permit once it completes construction on the landfill and secures a contract with a local government entity for disposal of locally-generated waste.
To ensure compliance with R315-308-2(2), Promontory Point Landfill is submitting this Major Permit Modification request for the installation/relocation of three downgradient monitoring wells.
The Director of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control is seeking public comment on a request from Promontory Point Resources, LLC to modify its existing Class I Permit for the Promontory Point Landfill. The landfill is located on the west side of the southern peninsula tip of Promontory Point. This major modification changes the three downgradient monitoring well locations to within 500 feet of the landfill unit boundary.
The public comment period to receive comments on this request will commence on January 13, 2018 and end on February 14, 2018. Documents related to this request can be reviewed at the following location: Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control Multi-Agency State Office Building 195 North 1950 West, 2nd Floor Salt Lake City, Utah For the public’s convenience, a copy of the Permit Modification Request, Downgradient Monitoring Well Installation/Relocation letter and the draft permit are available on the Internet at http://www.deq.utah.gov/NewsNotices/notices/waste/index.htm#phacp
Written comments relating to this major modification will be accepted if received by 5:00 p.m. on February 14, 2018 and should be submitted to the address below. Comments can also be hand delivered to the Division address and must be received by 5:00 p.m. on February 14, 2018.
Scott T. Anderson,
Director Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control
P.O. Box 144880
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4880
Comments can also be sent by electronic mail to: “email@example.com”. Comments sent in electronic format should be identified by putting the following in the subject line: Public Comment on Promontory Point Landfill Modification. All documents included in the comments should be submitted as ASCII (text) files or in pdf format.
Under Utah Code Section 19-1-301.5, a person who wishes to challenge a Permit Order may only raise an issue or argument during an adjudicatory proceeding that was raised during the public comment period and was supported with sufficient information or documentation to enable the Director to fully consider the substance and significance of the issue.
For further information, contact Matt Sullivan of the Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control at (801) 536-0241. In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with special needs (including auxiliary communicative aids and services) should contact Larene Wyss, Office of Human Resources at (801) 536-4281, TDD (801) 536-4284 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Leia Larsen
Approval for a large landfill on the Great Salt Lake’s Promontory Point sailed through the Utah Legislature two years ago. Now, the lawmaker who backed the measure says he wasn’t fully aware of the facts or demand for urgent action.
The owners, Promontory Point Resources LLC, or PPR, helped rush a joint resolution through the 2016 legislative session. It was proposed and passed in the 11th hour, just before the 45-day bill-passing bonanza ended.
The resolution’s sponsor, Rep. Lee Perry, recently said the measure was presented to him as an urgent matter, tied to an immediate economic opportunity. Confusion about what type of waste would be accepted, where waste would come from and local support for the project were essentially unheeded.
Now, two years later, PPR is seeking clearance to accept out-of-state waste at the 2,000-acre property, located on the southern tip of their namesake peninsula.
“I have to look back and say, ‘It’s been two years; we haven’t seen it come together,’” Perry said in a recent interview. “Was the demand necessary?”
Attention: Allan Moore
Solid Waste Program Manager
Great Salt Lake Advisory Council https://deq.utah.gov/great-salt-lake-advisory-council/index.htm
January 10, 2018
Utah Division of Solid & Hazardous Waste Department of Environmental Quality
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84116
Re: Promontory Landfill Class V RDCC Project No. 59842
At a meeting of the Great Salt Lake Advisory Council (“Council”) held today, Council members voted unanimously to send this letter to identify initial questions, issues and concerns related to Great Salt Lake (“GSL” or the “lake”) that the Council believes need to be addressed in the permitting process associated with the proposed change to the Promontory Landfill, referenced above, from a Class I to a Class V landfill.
Great Salt Lake Advisory Council Duty to Advise and Assist the Division of Environmental Quality in its Responsibilities for Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake Advisory Council (“Council”) was established by House Bill 343 in the 2010 session of the Utah State Legislature. Council members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Utah Senate.
The duties of the Council include:
Economic & Ecological Values of the Resource
A 2012 economic study commissioned by the Council estimated economic output generated by GSL at $1.3 billion, including $1.1 billion from evaporative mining, $136 million from tourism and recreation, and $57 million from the harvest of brine shrimp. The study estimated that those industries resulted in $375 million in paychecks and supported 7,706 local jobs. These economic contributions are dependent upon a healthy GSL ecosystem.
The Great Salt Lake also has significant ecological value. It plays a critical role for birds, including some of the largest concentrations of certain species of waterbirds in the Western hemisphere and, in some cases, the world. Over five million birds from 257 different species rely on the lake to live, feed, rest, breed and nest. The lake plays a particularly critical role for migratory birds. Birds come to the lake by the millions to eat and rest during migration, and other species stay to breed, nest and raise their young. The lake contains abundant food for birds, including very important brine shrimp and other macroinvertebrates. These ecological values depend upon a healthy ecosystem.
Questions and Concerns Regarding Proposed Class V Status for Promontory Landfill
The letter is not intended to reflect a detailed analysis of the application, nor or an exhaustive list of potential issues to be addressed in the permitting process. Rather the letter attempts to identify questions and concerns broadly shared by Council members. Those questions and concerns include the following:
Unique Nature of the Site and Associated Risks. The location of this site poses a particular challenge given its close proximity to, and location immediately uphill from, GSL. That location means that, if these concerns are not adequately addressed along with ample safeguards and planning for the unexpected, the landfill could pose a catastrophic threat to GSL, a natural resource of hemispheric—if not global—importance.
At a minimum, the Council believes further studies are needed to determine the full extent of the risks and the adequacy of the measures designed to address them. Those studies include a more extensive study of groundwatermovement on Promontory and how this facility could affect ground and surface water resources, as well as the adequacy of the facility to (i) capture and process leachate; (ii) prevent the escape of fugitive waste and other debris; (iii) prevent fly ash or other toxic dust from entering the environment from the landfill or from transportation to the landfill; and (iv) withstand natural disasters such as earthquakes, seiche waves which have occurred, and will likely occur again in this area, as well as degradation of the liners over time.
Thank you for your consideration and for the opportunity to pose these important questions and provide these initial comments.
If there is information that the Council could provide to assist the Department of Environmental Quality in evaluating this proposal, please let us know.
Sent by email to: email@example.com