Potential aquifer contamination one of Chilliwack’s main concerns

"Once contaminated, it is unlikely that the aquifer could be remediated to use for drinking water purposes again," reads letter of comment

City of Chilliwack filed its letter of comment to the National Energy Board Tuesday on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

City of Chilliwack filed its letter of comment to the National Energy Board Tuesday on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

City of Chilliwack filed its letter of comment to the National Energy Board Tuesday on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, citing concerns ranging from aquifer protection to socio-economic impacts of construction.

The Trans Mountain project by Kinder Morgan to twin the existing pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, has 25.5 km of new pipeline “passing directly” through Chilliwack, including residential areas, watercourses, riparian areas, agriculture, recreational areas, parks and three “vulnerable drinking water aquifers.”

Chilliwack’s letter cites five areas of concern: protection of the Sardis-Vedder aquifer during construction and operation, protection of natural areas, impacts of construction and mitigation, Trans Mountain’s communication plan, and timing of construction at Vedder River.

The alarm is sounded over potential effects on groundwater that the city get its drinking water supply from should their be “an accident or malfunction” of the pipeline.

“If the aquifer is contaminated due to an accidental oil spill or leak, the water supply to 76,000 residents and businesses will be affected,” according to the city’s letter of comment, dated Aug. 18.

“While it is difficult to quantifiably estimate the consequences arising from such an event, the water supply system would be severely impaired until an alternate, safe water supply source can be found for drinking purpose, resulting in substantial costs and hardships to the city and its citizens.

“Once contaminated, it is unlikely that the aquifer could be remediated to use for drinking water purposes again.”

Transparency issues are mentioned as well.

“The city shares the same concerns expressed by other local governments in these proceedings regarding the lack of transparency, accountability and opportunity for meaningful input into Trans Mountain’s pipeline environmental protection, spill prevention, emergency response and emergency management plans.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno