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Published August 28, 2014, 09:59 AM

CHS plant’s storm water management plan approved

The Stutsman County (N.D.) Water Resource Board approved a storm water management plan for the proposed CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant Wednesday.

By: Keith Norman, Forum News Service

The Stutsman County (N.D.) Water Resource Board approved a storm water management plan for the proposed CHS nitrogen fertilizer plant Wednesday.

The storm water management plan defines the storage ponds and drainage system to control the flow of water off a property after a storm or during snow melt in the spring. The plan must demonstrate that storm water runoff from the property will not exceed levels of runoff that occurred previous to the construction.

The proposed CHS nitrogen plant would convert natural gas from the Oil Patch into nitrogen farm fertilizer. If constructed, it would be the largest construction project built in North Dakota with an estimated cost of more than $2 billion. It was originally announced in September 2012, but the project was put on hold in April.

According to Bart Gill, project director for CH2M Hill, an engineering firm working for CHS on the project, the storm water management plan is one of the last approvals necessary before the start of construction.

“The CHS Board of Directors hasn’t made a final decision yet, but we hope to have that very soon,” he said. “With the drain permit, we would have all permits necessary to start construction very soon.”

Gill said the storm water management plan would enhance existing wetlands within the property to store water which would then be allowed to flow into Seven Mile Coulee and the James River in a controlled manner. He estimated the modified wetlands would hold about 110 percent of the water the current wetlands accommodate. The area currently drains into Seven Mile Coulee and the James River.

“The outflow should remain the same,” Gill said. “The wetlands will provide 165,000 cubic yards of storm water retention.”

Jeff Topp, speaking on behalf of his son, Justin, who owns property south of the proposed CHS nitrogen plant, questioned whether the provided storm water storage on the CHS property was adequate.

“They are adding a lot of concrete and asphalt to the area which will increase the runoff,” he said. “That will increase the flow through Seven Mile Coulee. There are spots where the water gets hung up now.”

Gill said the project was designed to account for those increased flows and would accommodate up to a 500-year flood event.

“We could make the basins bigger, but we believe they are big enough,” he said.

Annette Degnan, CHS marketing communications director, said the company is continuing to work with local planning and regulatory agencies, but had not determined a timeline for making any announcements concerning plant construction.

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