Is your Public Water Safe?
Heard of Flint, Michigan? Heard of their compromised public water system? Live in Chippewa Lake, Gloria Glens, Hunters Run development or anywhere downstream? Think your public water can’t be compromised? Better read this…
Spectra Energy and Nexus are proposing to built a 36 inch high pressure (1,500 PSI) raw natural gas pipeline within feet of the Chippewa Lake Public water well heads and water tower as well as traverse the drinking water source protection area along Lake Road. The maps below show the close proximity of the pipeline to the well heads, water treatment plant and water tower and where it traverses the drinking water source protection area. The wellheads are already under a well head protection plan as they are susceptible to contamination.
A drinking water source protection area is the area that supplies water to a public water supply well within a five-year time-of-travel. This means that a drop of water placed at the edge of the protection area would take five years to reach the well. Ohio EPA also delineates an inner management area (based on a one year time of travel) to help identify the most critical portion of the protection area.
The current Nexus proposed route traverses the outer and critical inner management areas of the Chippewa Lake Water Wellhead Protection area. The Drinking Water Source Assessment for the Medina County Southern Water District states this aquifer (water-rich zone) that supplies water to the County’s Chippewa Lake System already has a moderate susceptibility to contamination. This system operates 3 water wells that can pump approximately 285,000 gallons of water per day from a shale aquifer (water-rich zone). The top of the aquifer is only 42 feet below the ground surface with the aquifer having a thickness of 129 feet.
The Federal Safe Drinking Water Act amendments of 1986 established the Source Water Protection Program, which requires states to administer a program designed to protect the ground water that supplies their public water systems that provide drinking water from wells. In 1996, the program was extended to include surface water systems and was renamed Source Water Assessment and Protection (SWAP). Ohio EPA’s Division of Drinking and Ground Waters administers the program in Ohio following program approval by U.S. EPA in 1999.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that vaporize rapidly when exposed to air. Because of this, they are detected more frequently in ground water than in surface water. Many VOCs are solvents that include chemicals such as benzene, toluene, xylene, trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), and methyl ethyl ketone (MEK). VOCs can cause acute reactions in humans when breathed at very high concentrations, causing headaches, impairment of the nervous system, nausea, and other symptoms. Also, a number of VOCs are believed to cause cancer. For this reason, even low-level exposure is a concern.
The Nexus pipeline will be transporting natural gas that contains many of these VOCs and could leak at any point along its length especially when the materials transported through the pipeline are corrosive or under extreme pressure.
The Nexus proposed route will traverse McCabe Creek which is situated in a steep ravine within the Chippewa Lake Water Wellhead Protection area. Turbidity caused by stream bank modification from proposed excavation of the Proposed Nexus pipeline will deliver suspended sediment to the water column. This can be transported to the water wellhead plant intake and require extra treatment to remove. Suspended sediments can also carry other associated contaminants through the water column and pose additional treatment concerns.
The Nexus proposed construction areas are also within the wellhead protection area. The improper disposal or storage of wastes, such as brine generated during drilling, can adversely impact surface waters. Leaks and spills from equipment and above ground or underground storage tanks can impact surface water. Unused and unmonitored trenches and quarries can also present tempting targets for illegal dumping of wastes.
Ground water contamination is a serious problem because contaminants often travel unnoticed until detected in a water supply well. Once contaminated, an aquifer is both difficult and expensive to clean up if it can even be cleaned.
Given the aforementioned environmental water wellhead protection area of the Chippewa Lake water wellheads, the current Nexus proposed route is not in the best thought-out location. This water wellhead protection area should be totally avoided in order to protect this area’s aquifer and sole source of drinking water. Alternate routes have been proposed that avoid this sensitive water wellhead protection area in the Chippewa Lake region. It is the duty of the operators of the Chippewa Lake Water Wells, Medina County Southern Water District, the Ohio EPA, ODNR, Medina County Board of Commissioners and the Lafayette Township Trustees to protect this water wellhead protection area and aquifer from all possible contaminants that may critically contaminate this source of drinking water for the Chippewa Lake region.
The map below shows the inner and outer management areas of the Chippewa Lake Water Wellhead Protection area. The Proposed Nexus route is illustrated by the red dashed line. The Nexus proposed route cuts directly through both the outer and inner management areas.
The map below shows the steep terrain within the Chippewa Lake Water Wellhead Protection Area that the Nexus proposed route will traverse. Turbidity caused by stream bank modification from proposed excavation of the Proposed Nexus pipeline will deliver suspended sediment to the water column. This can be transported to the water wellhead plant intake and require extra treatment to remove. Suspended sediments can also carry other associated contaminants through the water column and pose additional treatment concerns.
The Ohio EPA illustrates the table below in Ohio’s Source Water Assessment and Protection Program listing pipelines as an Environmental concern for potential contaminant sources found in or near the Medina County Southern Water District’s protection areas. The Chippewa Lake Water Wellhead Protection area warrants stringent protection from all possible contaminant sources.
So, if your water is compromised what will you do?
If this isn’t such an issue, why is the Sandusky County sanitary engineer asking the proposed NEXUS natural gas pipeline developers to move their route away from water wells that provide fresh water for hundreds of people near Fremont? The proposed route there is within 110 feet of one well which is well within the 300 foot well protection radius.