Deadline for comments on the proposed route of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project was on May 7. (Trans Mountain photo)

Chilliwack fires off response about drinking water

An unedited copy of the BC Hydro study is also being requested

The City of Chilliwack expressed growing frustration last week for the way Kinder Morgan is addressing the city’s concerns about its aquifer.

Correspondence about protecting drinking water in Chilliwack has been going back and forth between City of Chilliwack and Kinder Morgan for months.

However, the latest letter from Kinder Morgan showed “little concern” for the safety of the Sardis-Vedder aquifer, and the community water supply sources, according to the written response from City of Chilliwack reps.

In a letter dated May 1, Kinder Morgan officials advised Chilliwack council there is “no possibility” of routing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion within the BC Hydro right-of-way in Balmoral Park, and provided a heavily redacted report as its rationale. The BC Hydro option is seen as an alternative to going through the aquifer.

Kinder Morgan also admitted in the correspondence that the Sardis-Vedder aquifer and the city water supply were not included as concerns in their alignment scenarios.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz stressed however that City of Chilliwack has “clearly and repeatedly” told Kinder Morgan that one of the community’s biggest concerns is drinking water safety and the protection of the aquifer. It was the No. 1 issue identified in the city’s original letter of comment to the National Energy Board.

“I am concerned that Kinder Morgan would imply that we haven’t clearly communicated our concerns over the safety of one of our greatest resources, our drinking water, and find it preposterous that this concern wouldn’t be taken into account when considering the option of routing within the BC Hydro right-of-way in Balmoral Park,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

Chilliwack is asking Kinder Morgan to forward a complete unredacted copy of the BC Hydro study for independent review to help city reps determine if alternatives to safeguard Chilliwack’s drinking water were considered.

In its letter, Kinder Morgan also rejected the request for automated vapour monitoring in Chilliwack to ensure early detection of leaking oil.

“We take our obligation to protect drinking water very seriously. An independent consultant identified automated vapour monitoring as an important tool to help ensure the safety of our drinking water and I am shocked that Kinder Morgan would be so dismissive,” said Mayor Gaetz.

In response to Kinder Morgan’s letter, Mayor Gaetz criticized the company for their lack of attention to detail and accuracy, expressing a growing dissatisfaction with its disregard for Chilliwack’s natural resources.

“The City of Chilliwack is committed to continue communicating the importance of safeguarding our drinking water and natural resources to Kinder Morgan and the Provincial government.”

Deadline for comments on the proposed route of the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning project was on May 7.