Chilliwack/Yarrow Drinking Water &
the Kinder Morgan Pipeline

Chilliwack has made a strong showing thus far. The NEB has received letters from many residents, the Mayor, the Chamber of Commerce, and MP Mark Strahl. But this is far from over. Read on for more info, and what you can do to help protect the source of Chilliwack and Yarrow's drinking water right now.

State of the Process[es]

[Update: This page continues about the overall detailed route approval process and main issues related to that. There is also an NEB hearing now to deal with Kinder Morgan's application to move a section of the pipeline even closer to City wells. More on that here.]

Thanks to motions filed by WaterWealth and the Township of Langley, new deadlines were set for written statements on the route of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Expansion Project. That extension allowed people all along the route more time to learn of their rights in the detailed route process and to exercise those rights by filing written statements with the NEB.

It was interesting to note the recommendation of the NEB Modernization Panel that an Office of the Public Intervenor be set up to assist people to learn about and participate in regulatory processes. The vast majority of statements filed for the Trans Mountain route process came from Chilliwack (almost 50%), where WaterWealth has been filling that role of public advocate, and Burnaby (almost 30%) where the local government and MP Kennedy Stewart have been doing that work.

Next Steps

The next step with the NEB will be for those who filed statements to be offered opportunities to speak to an NEB panel in public hearings. We are waiting to hear from the NEB on where and when those will happen.

Most critical now in Chilliwack/Yarrow is that the City voted at a June 6 Council meeting to authorize staff to contact the National Energy Board and participate in the alternative dispute resolution process with Kinder Morgan. We don't know what they will be negotiating there. In the past City staff and Kinder Morgan have talked about 3mm thicker pipe near city wells, how deep the pipe should be buried, vapour monitoring to let us know when there is a spill, and groundwater monitoring to let us know when the water is contaminated.

Will changing the route to eliminate the threat to Chilliwack and Yarrow drinking water sources be on the table? We don't know. Should it be? Absolutely!


People on Chilliwack's water system may want to view the video below. In the span of a few minutes WaterWealth Program Director Ian Stephen walks into the Protected Groundwater Zone, from a city "Protect our Drinking Water" sign to the BC Hydro right-of-way that you may have heard about in the news, then to the pipeline and on to the most at-risk city wells. Learn about the spill scenario for our area that Kinder Morgan included in their NEB application, and the more likely spill scenarios the Province of BC asked them to model and why they did not do that modeling.

Astonishingly, despite Kinder Morgan Canada President Ian Anderson's assurances to the Mayor that the company takes our concerns seriously, these city wells were not included in Kinder Morgan's filing with the NEB on June 16 of an inventory of drinking water sources at risk from the project. WaterWealth is filing a motion with the NEB, hoping to correct that omission and to bring about some independent verification of such inventory filings by Kinder Morgan.


The list of drinking water sources at risk from the pipeline did include Yarrow Waterworks wells. The image below illustrates why (click for larger image).


Spill Scenarios - What's the Worst that Could Happen?

Kinder Morgan estimate a worst case full bore rupture spill volume of 1.3-million litres in the Fraser Valley. That was the sort of leak they included in spill scenarios in their application to the NEB. Full bore ruptures are rare though. Much more likely are slow leaks of the sort that happened in 2013 on the Trans Mountain pipeline at the Coquihalla Summit and a little east of there. Fortunately those were small and not over anyone's drinking water source, but Kinder Morgan admit that up to 2 to 5% of pipeline flow can leak undetected from pipelines. On the 300,000 barrel per day pipeline that is over the aquifer and upstream of Yarrow's wells now that would be as much as 39,750 to 99,375 litres per hour that could leak undetected. On the proposed 590,000 barrel per day pipeline 2 to 5% would be 78,175 to 195,437 litres per hour.

Were that to happen over the aquifer we get our drinking water from the consequences would be extreme. The Trans Mountain pipeline had a spill into groundwater in 1992. Fortunately that groundwater was not anyone's drinking water source. They are still trying to clean up that spill now, 25 years later. And the diluted bitumen carried by these pipelines is complex. At 1400 psi in the proposed pipeline, it flows because of diluents added to the tar sands bitumen. The mix includes components that in the event of a spill separate at rates dependent on conditions at the time -- into gases that can come off as a toxic cloud, and substances of various viscosities including benzene which is toxic, cancer causing, and dissolves in water.

Risk is Entirely Avoidable

Were a leak to happen near City or Yarrow wells we might not know about it before benzene was coming out of peoples' taps. Hopefully people would notice their water smelled funny before consuming any of it and the water supplies could be turned off before anyone became ill. However, we don't have to accept this risk being imposed on our home and our families by Kinder Morgan.

The pipeline route follows Highway 1 from Hope to Chilliwack. It crosses Highway 1 by Upper Prairie Road in Chilliwack and crosses again by Kinder Morgan's pump station on McDermott Road in Abbotsford. The City could ask Kinder Morgan and the NEB to change the route to follow the highway between those points instead of going past City wells and Yarrow’s wells. Decommission that part of the existing pipeline and run it in the new route section alongside the highway too, as Kinder Morgan are doing on a new section in Burnaby, and all risk of oil pipeline spill into City of Chilliwack and Yarrow Waterworks wells would be eliminated.

Kinder Morgan's Route Alternative Route
route_alternatives_1953.jpg route_alternatives_hwy1.jpg
(Sardis-Vedder Aquifer shaded blue)

What You Can Do!

Councilor Sam Waddington recently said "with the community backing, it gives us a louder voice, to be heard by Kinder Morgan and the NEB."

We urge residents to contact the Mayor and Council to encourage them to ask for the pipeline route to be changed to get these pipelines off of the aquifer.

You can contact the Mayor and Council with one message on the city website at

Or email Mayor and Council individually:

Mayor Sharon Gaetz:


Sue Attrill:

Chris Kloot:

Jason Lum:

Ken Popove:

Chuck Stam:

Sam Waddington:

With most email clients you should be able to copy the list below and paste it into the "To:" field of your email to send one email to all:,,,,,,



WaterWealth needs the support of people who recognize the importance of public
participation in planning and decision making that affects our shared home waters.
Please consider supporting with a donation,
or help us achieve a consistent budget for our own planning by becoming a sustaining supporter.




Do you like this page?

Showing 1 reaction

published this page in Our Initiatives 2017-07-02 21:31:40 -0700