Federal Letter re Pipeline & Aquifer

(The letter below also sent separately to Prime Minister Trudeau. James Carr as Minister of Natural Resources. and local MP Mark Strahl. Interestingly, no acknowledgement or reply was received from the Prime Minister or Environment Minister until a comment referring to the letter was made on an opinion piece on the pipeline by Federal Liberal MPs several weeks later. An acknowledgement from the Prime Minister's Office was received hours after that comment was posted. Coincidence?

Regrettably, that acknowledgement, like the reply from MP Strahl, merely said that the matter was being referred to the Minister of Natural Resources. No response has been received from the Minister of Natural Resources or any member of the Cabinet Climate and Energy Committee.

The letters were sent 28 November, 2016 and later posted here to add to the record on our blog of events related to the project and the aquifer.)

Climate and Energy Committee

Honourable Melanie Joly, Chair
Honourable Kristy Duncan, Vice Chair

Committee Members,
Honourable James Carr,
Honourable Carolyn Bennett
Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Honourable Catherine McKenna
Honourable Amarjeet Sohi

Re: The Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project and City of Chilliwack water source

You may not be aware that the pipeline runs right across the Sardis-Vedder Aquifer that is the sole water supply for the rapidly growing city of Chilliwack, BC, my home and the home of the WaterWealth Project which I represent.

It is incomprehensible to me at this late stage in the federal process to approve the Kinder Morgan Expansion Project that the project is still set to be built right across the aquifer we who live in Chilliwack and Yarrow drink from every day.

If you are determined to approve this pipeline, we need the route changed.

We are a city of some 80,000 people in one of Canada's fastest growing regions. The Kinder Morgan / Trans Mountain pipeline route lies across the aquifer, passing within capture zones of City wells. It then crosses theĀ  ecologically and economically vital Vedder River very near the Vedder Mountain Fault, in a zone of very high liquefaction potential, and just upstream of Yarrow Waterworks wells. The Vedder Mountain Fault was one of four that Natural Resources Canada raised in the NEB hearing as being of particular concern.

There has been news recently that the Husky oil spill that contaminated the North Saskatchewan River in July and is impacting water supply to downstream communities to this day was due to ground movement. Engineers reviewing recent information from that spill have said that it was preventable. Will we be saying the same about a spill into the aquifer here sometime during the many decades the Trans Mountain system can be expected to operate?

The City of Chilliwack said in their letter of comment to the NEB "Once contaminated, it is unlikely that the aquifer could be remediated adequately to use for drinking water purposes again." We have signs cautioning residents to be careful with household products as one enters the Protected Groundwater Zone. Yet the pipeline runs across that zone and you seem about to let them build another one there.

A commonly heard argument for the pipeline is jobs. I shudder to think what the impact on jobs in Chilliwack would be if one of the Trans Mountain pipelines were to ever suffer a failure of the sort that was seen on the 9-month old, double-walled, Nexen pipeline in Northern Alberta last year that leaked 5-million litres over a month without safety systems ever detecting the leak. Smaller, but similar, was the two leaks on the Trans Mountain pipeline not far from Chilliwack in 2013. Kinder Morgan had been conducting in-line inspections of the old pipeline and those tools missed the two 2013 leaks.

If the twinning project goes ahead, it represents the only opportunity we are likely to ever have to move these pipelines to go around the aquifer instead of across it. In conversations with residents in Chilliwack I have been simply showing them a map with the aquifer and pipeline shown. I am finding that most are unaware that the pipeline is over the aquifer, and without even getting into as much detail as this email already has the concern upon learning that the pipeline sits over the aquifer is unanimous among the residents I have talked with.

Canada's commitments regarding climate change, the threat the project poses to the endangered Southern Resident Orcas, Canada's statements earlier this year regarding the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the failure of this project to achieve First Nations approval, the need to move to a modern economy, and so many other 'bigger picture' issues point to rejection of the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion Project.

However, if you are determined to push it through regardless, please do not push it through this city's water supply. Please change the route as a condition of approval.

Ian Stephen
Program Director
The WaterWealth Project

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