Drinking Water Protection Areas and the KXL
By Christine Nobiss
Entering Drinking Water Protection Area? Way to go Nebraska! Or maybe not.
While driving through Nebraska we saw this sign. We pulled over and got out our Mni Wiconi banner! Kind of wish there was a third person to help hold it up. 😂
Introduced by Nebraska's Wellhead Protection Program in 1998, a drinking water protection area is where there are wellheads and drinking water that need to be protected from contamination. Essentially, these areas are mapped out so, "local entities can use this information to develop Wellhead Protection Plans to protect these important sources of drinking water." (Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality)
The KXL proposed route is going through the Ogallala aquifer. I can't imagine why this aquifer is not being protected from the pipeline, considering it is one of the country's largest freshwater sources. In fact, according to Bold Nebraska, "the proposed pipeline route will be within 1 mile of 2,398 Nebraska water wells, in addition to 523 in Montana and 105 in South Dakota. 1,115 of Nebraskan wells within 1 mile of the proposed pipeline route are classified as shallow or very shallow." (Bold Nebraska)
So, I need to ask why a pipeline of this magnitude is not considered a risk to drinking water contamination? Also, what is considered a risk then? The Wellhead Protection Program has the following list up on their site:
Common Potential Contaminant Sources:
- Fuel Storage
- Grain Storage
- Water Well
- Chemical Storage
Commercial / Light Industry
- Auto Repair
- Dry Cleaners
- Fuel Stations/Storage
- Machine Shop
- Rail Yard
- Gas/Oil Well
- Junk Yard
- Sewage Treatment
- Golf Course
- HWY Maintenance Yard
- Transportation Corridors
Listed are fuel storage, gas/oil wells and fuel stations/storage but no fuel "transportation" infrastructure. However, don't you think these are one and the same? When in fact, there is a much higher risk of a pipeline leak versus a storage leak considering the immense amount of pressure these pipes must withstand daily?
The Dakota Access is a 30 inch pipeline that harbors 1,440 pounds per square inch (psia) and transports almost 500,000 barrels a day. The KXL is a 36 inch pipeline pressurized for the same pisa and will transport around 830,000 barrels a day. With such an immense amount of pressure to withstand, when pipe lines of this size rupture, they can spew hundreds of thousands of barrels into the area before the "leak" is even detected. The environmental havoc that these pipelines can cause on our drinking water is astounding. They can take out potable water for millions. They can devastate crops and kill animals.
That being said...why are pipelines not on this list? Perhaps that is something to ask the Nebraska Public Services Commission and the Iowa Utilites Board, again and again and again.