pipeline under aquifer concerns water customer
Sunman resident has great concerns about the water she uses from
Hoosier Hills Regional Water District (HHRWD).
Eva Kerner contacted The Versailles Republican saying she
had received a notice from her water company, HHRWD, saying because
of construction of a gas pipeline the local water supply could
Kerner shared the message from the water company with the newspaper.
It reads in part: The board regrets to inform the members
of an entity known as Rocky Express Pipeline LLC (REX) that is
constructing a 42 gas pipeline through our aquifer. The
current proposed location of the gas pipeline represents a threat
to your water supply.
The notice went on to say REX is boring under the Whitewater River
40 to 50 feet below the river bed directly into and through the
aquifer. Contamination issues are likely to threaten the
aquifer with these construction activities or with the location
of the natural gas pipeline as proposed. HHRWD officials have
been working to have this gas main relocated but have been unsuccessful
An attorney for the HHRWD told The Versailles Republican
that they have been battling this issue for about two years now.
They are monitoring the water quality throughout the construction
The HHRWD serves customers in Ripley County including the Town
of Milan. It also has customers in Franklin and Dearborn counties.
Kerner contacted the Indiana Department of Environmental Management
concerning the issue. In a reply from Brad Baughn, business and
legislative liaison for IDEM, he gave information on IDEMs
involvement with the situation and information on the Rockies
First it should be made clear that the Indiana Department
of Environmental Management does not have the authority to prohibit
this type of construction project. Local authorities are responsible
for how they manage their wellhead protection programs. However,
IDEMs Drinking Water section does operate an education and
assistance program which helps local officials in developing and
managing their well field protection zones.
He noted, In this particular case, our Drinking Water sections
involvement has mostly been related to protection of the aquifer
as a drinking water source. Since the pipeline will carry natural
gas, the potential for any lasting impact on the aquifer should
a leak occur is very, very minimal and is highly unlikely to impact
The letter continued, The construction of the pipeline itself
will disturb the material of the aquifer, but we do not believe
the disturbance will be significant or will negatively impact
the drinking water.
Baughn further noted that the pipeline company, REX, has an extensive
groundwater monitoring system that is designed to alert them if
an impact occurs. He said since the monitoring system has been
put into place (during the pre-construction phase of the project,
and during construction) laboratory testing results confirm the
water quality remains unaffected by the construction activities.
He said testing of the monitoring system is done on a weekly basis.
The letter went on to say REX has also developed an extensive
spill prevention plan preventing any spills from occurring without
full reporting to both Hoosier Hills Regional Water District and
the FERC or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
REX maintains that the extremely conservative measures
they have taken should prevent any impacts to the water supply
now or in the future.
REX is a proposed 1,679 mile natural gas pipeline system from
Rio Blanco County, Colorado, to Monroe County, Ohio. According
to IDEMs Baughn, it is one of the largest natural gas pipelines
constructed in North America and one of the most significant in
the last 25 years. The mapping and construction of REX was
approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which
is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission
of electricity, natural gas and oil. The docket number is CP07-208-000.
Baughn says that REX environmental teams will continue to coordinate
water sampling at Hoosier Hills WPA groundwater monitoring wells
and are confident, as is the FERC, that the precautions taken
will prevent any problem with the water supply.
Ironically enough as Kerner and other water customers of HHRWD
worry about the safety of their water supply, IDEM and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency announced the celebration of the
35th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act just this week.
The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed into law in 1974 to protect
public health by regulating the nations public drinking
water supply and protecting sources of drinking water in America.
A press release read, In Indiana, IDEM is charged with ensuring
the safety of drinking water and protecting ground water.
Information from IDEM noted, that they work in a number of ways
to protect public water supplies from contaminants that occur
naturally or come from human and animal activities. It was noted
that they oversee all public water supplies to ensure they are
complying with state and federal standards, including water quality
and treatment techniques.
IDEM also offers technical assistance, performs facility inspections
and provides emergency assistance to public water supplies and
operators. They also assist public water systems with security
and infrastructure protection efforts.
All of the safety measures in place by the state agencies still
does not comfort Kerner as she worries about the water she and
others drink. Kerner concluded, "How safe is the water when
theres a natural gas pipeline running beneath the aquifer
the water supply comes from?"