Invasive species in Canisteo Mine Pit the latest obstacle against outflow plans

Bovey, MN
Bovey, MN(KBJR/CBS3 Duluth)
Published: Sep. 26, 2022 at 9:16 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BOVEY, MN -- Zebra mussels recently found in the Canisteo Mine Pit have complicated efforts to keep the pit from overflowing.

The pit is what’s known as a legacy mine pit, abandoned before the state of Minnesota passed mine reclamation laws to keep water from overflowing in abandoned quarries.

“Without the dewatering that the mining companies are doing the water levels have steadily increased since mining activity stopped,” said Erika Herr with the Minnesota DNR.

The current plan to keep the pit from overflowing is to pump water out.

This year, the DNR will do so with funding from the IRRRB.

Plans were in place to pump that water this fall, but the discovery of the mussels put a hold on those plans for now.

“Finding the zebra mussels in that pit, which happened just about a week or two ago, has made us have to probably take a step back on what our plan is because we can’t just do water without filtration or some kind of treatment,” said Herr, “it’s going to be more expensive.”

Herr and others involved are optimistic they’ll still be able to pump this year, whether with a filtration system or some other method.

The presence of mussels also raises concerns over a more permanent solution.

Plans for a passive solution like a spillway did not gain enough traction in the most recent legislative session.

“That legislation did not pass. You know, that was one of the really good things in the bill,” said State Representative Spencer Igo a republican representing MN-05B, “The perfect situation is we return to St. Paul and this is a priority number one project.”

If the pit overflows, it could flood the nearby town of Bovey, but experts say the water levels are under control and the threat of overflow remains low.