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Clay County officials want sand recycled

Sandbags are piled up for collection along Wall Street in north Moorhead as Cargill volunteers, from left, Davis Thompson, Dan Simmons and Ryan Jorgensen help Oakport Township residents Jarrett and Joe Jenni dispose of a trailer load on Tuesday. (David Samson/The Forum)

MOORHEAD - Alarm spread Tuesday morning among officials in Clay County.

The worry: Tons of sandbags might be heading to the county landfill.

Those fears eased by the afternoon, when it appeared the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would work with area officials to make sure sandbags get recycled instead of buried.

"It would fill up our landfill," Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Green said early Tuesday during a county board meeting. Late on Tuesday he said he was still waiting to hear from state officials on whether sand was clean enough to be reused.

Shannon Bauer, a spokeswoman for the corps, said sandbags collected on behalf of the agency will be going to the joint public works facility in Moorhead.

The city will set up equipment to remove sand from bags and store it for future use, said Bob Zimmerman, the city engineer, adding that the city will store sand for itself and the county, though he did not have details of how that will work.

Mountains of sandbags are rising along Wall Street in Oakport Township, and Greg Anderson, township board chairman, said the amount so far represents about a third of the sandbags that will have to be removed.

In some cases, straw bales were used to build dikes, and Anderson said there was concern the corps wouldn't handle the unorthodox material.

He said, however, that the county is in talks with the corps and he feels strongly both sand and straw will be recycled.

The corps has not yet signed contracts for earth and sandbag dike removal on the Minnesota side of the river.

Corps officials confirmed Tuesday that the first contract had been finalized for contingency dike removal in Fargo.

Cass gets green light

Cass County Engineer Keith Berndt said officials with North Dakota's health department have said the Red River's floodwaters stayed clean enough to allow sand in sandbags to be recycled.

When crews contracted by the corps collect those sandbags used to protect private homes, a process that will begin late this week at the earliest, they will deliver the bags to Cass County's highway department headquarters.

The county will be responsible for removing the sand from the bags, Berndt said.

There will be so much sand that Berndt expects the county will try selling some of it, he said.