Thursday, Nov 24, 2016 



Water They Gonna Do?

A pipeline leak over the aquifer could turn Chilliwack into a bucket brigade

Ian Stephen/Submitted photos and Voice photos


The Kinder Morgan pipeline being installed in Alberta is creeping closer to Chilliwack.


would rather the pipeline didn't go ahead, for a variety of reasons, but it seems pretty clear that Trudeau & Cabinet are going to approve it and IF it gets built it seems so obvious to me that for this community having them go around the aquifer instead of across it should be our line in the sand.

We've been lucky so far that there hasn't been a spill into the aquifer. To double the risk with a second pipeline (or triple it by volume the twinned system will carry) seems unthinkable to me. New pipelines spill too. Nexen's pipe that spilled 5-million litres in northern Alberta last year was only 9 months old, and the safety systems on it never detected the leak.

It was found by someone walking in the area. If these pipelines stay over the aquifer and something like that happens in the next 100 years or who knows how long they'll be in use, the first we know there was a spill could be when toxic water comes out our taps.

Ian Stephen at Chilliwack City Hall hearing on the pipeline issue in May, 2015. Below, a jar of bitumen courtesy of Sheila Muxlow.

Then how do we even clean the city's plumbing of that muck? Never mind find a new water source. Filter water from the Fraser? I don't know. Don't want to know. Just get the pipes off the aquifer and we don't have to worry about that.

It's amazing to me that the local government didn't ask for the route to be changed. The regional government didn't ask for the route to be changed. The NEB report acknowledged the risks in this section of the pipeline and my request to change the route but did nothing about it.

The Ministerial Panel acknowledged the risks and requests from many people here to change the route but of course that panel was not allowed to make recommendations, only report what was said. Now it's in the hands of Trudeau's Cabinet. Will they protect this city's water supply? We'll find out soon

As far as re-routing the pipeline and the City's disregard for protecting its water source from disaster, it's Kinder Morgan's pipeline so they should cover the cost of moving it. If there was to be some cost-sharing perhaps the $1.2-million that Kinder Morgan is giving the city under the Community Benefits program could go toward it.



I don't know that it would cost extra though. They have to dig a trench for the new pipe anyway, whether on the old route or a new one. Where they run over the aquifer they've agreed to use heavier pipe the whole way. A route off the aquifer presumably wouldn't need that. The current route runs right through people's yards in areas where development has occurred since 1953.


They're altering the route to go around Tzeachten Reserve because Tzeachten said 'no' to going across the reserve. The city is not happy about that because it will run along South Sumas Road (if I remember correctly) and the city is concerned that it will interfere with future utilities work along that road.


They're altering the route again to go around Watson Elementary. The route change to get it off of Watson Elementary takes it into Hydro's high voltage power line right-of-way. I imagine there are complications with doing excavation under power lines.

Running along the highway might actually be a less complicated route, so some savings there. There would be costs to decommission the old pipeline where it's over the aquifer, but they don't have to take it out. We don't take old pipelines out in Canada. Just run something through it to clean it and leave it there. That cost would be at least partly offset by them not having to do the inspections and repairs that the old pipe undoubtedly needs.

Between various costs and cost savings I bet the difference to go on the aquifer or off of it for 25 km or so in a $6.8-billion, 1150 km long project would be pretty negligible.

And moving it would guarantee no spill ever wipes out this city's water supply.

People of Chilliwack have to demand it though.

A Vedder Road Pipe-Up Protest in 2013. Voice photo.

Recent spills and maintenance (2012-2016) on the old pipeline:

The 'Not On The Aquifer' petition page:

Some additional details:

See a 1-minute Youtube clip here that shows the existing pipeline route & proposed alternative in relation to the aquifer.
The video is also linked on petition page.

Right-click and save to view larger image




Vote now to save our water for generations to come.



2008-2016 The Valley Voice News | All Rights Reserved