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November 10, 2004 - TransGas Operation Suspended Pending Further Research

November 10, 2004

TransGas Operation Suspended Pending Further Research

The Saskatchewan Watershed Authority has asked TransGas to initiate a controlled shutdown of operations near Vanscoy to allow for further research into public concerns about groundwater levels in the Grandora area. TransGas had originally scheduled a temporary shut down for March 2005. The company will co-operate with the Authority by advancing the timing of the planned shutdown by approximately 15 weeks.

At the Authority's direction, TransGas will drill additional observation wells and will add additional monitoring equipment at several existing wells. The company has agreed to suspend their pumping operations approximately one week after the additional monitors are in place, allowing for accurate comparisons of data during both operation and non-operation.

TransGas has been using groundwater from the Tyner Valley Aquifer to dissolve salt and create underground caverns for the storage of natural gas to serve the energy needs of the west central area of the province.

According to Watershed Authority Director of Ground Water Management, Nolan Shaheen, the original request for a groundwater allocation had been approved based on the results of test drilling and modeling done by professional hydrogeologists.

"We knew there would be impacts to existing users that TransGas is required to mitigate, and that is one of the conditions of their allocation," Shaheen said.  "However, monitoring data collected since the pumping started in January shows the water level declines in the Tyner Valley Aquifer were greater than suggested by the original modeling.  Users from the Grandora area, who get their water from other aquifers, have also claimed that water levels in their wells have dropped by several metres since TransGas started pumping."

"We have listened to the concerns raised by local residents. It is important that we get more information on what impacts the pumping by TransGas is having on water levels in the area," Shaheen said. "It isn't clear from the available data if their water supply problems are due to the TransGas operation or some other cause. Temporarily suspending the TransGas operation by advancing the scheduled shutdown and collecting more data will allow us to make a better water management decision."

The Authority will have the results of the latest research by late January. If the research suggests the TransGas operations are causing the problems in the Grandora area, the Authority could direct the company to reduce the rate of water use or could suspend the allocation altogether.

If the overall use is deemed sustainable, the Authority could allow TransGas to resume operations at their current level. TransGas would be required to mitigate water wells of any other users who have suffered adverse impacts to their water supply as a result of the TransGas operations. This is already a condition of the approval and TransGas has completed mitigation on 61 local wells. The mitigation has generally involved lowering or replacing of pumps, but in some instances has required drilling new wells.

For more information, please contact:
Nolan Shaheen
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Moose Jaw
Phone: (306) 694-3963