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March 11, 2005 - Restart of TransGas Project Approved

March 11, 2005

Restart of TransGas Project Approved

Following an independent third party review of the TransGas cavern project near Vanscoy, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority announced today that TransGas can proceed under an amended approval to operate.

"We responded to concerns about impacts of the project with a three-month shut down, additional monitoring and an independent scientific review of this project which was completed by the Saskatchewan Research Council (SRC)", Watershed Authority President Stuart Kramer said. "The Research Council concluded that, from a hydrogeological perspective, pumping may resume at the planned rates with some additional precautions. The Watershed Authority is therefore issuing an amended approval to operate to TransGas."

The SRC report also found that drawdown from the TransGas project extended into a limited portion of the neighbouring Tessier aquifer. The amended approval will contain a special condition establishing a minimum water level for the Tessier aquifer so the TransGas project does not lower water levels below the top of the Tessier aquifer. TransGas will be required to reduce pumping rates or stop pumping in order to maintain water levels at or above the safety margin above the top of the aquifer. "We are imposing these additional conditions to ensure protection of the aquifers." Kramer said.

Conditions are already in place to ensure Transgas mitigates the impact of the project for people using water from the Tessier and Tyner Valley aquifers. Authority staff will be consulting with area residents to ensure impacts are identified and mitigated.

Water quality issues in the project area were also reviewed during the shut down. Watershed Authority staff sampled 48 wells, of which, 44 per cent exceeded a health standard. However, neither the SRC study nor internal investigations by the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority found evidence to attribute water quality issues to the TransGas pumping.

The overall water quality results are consistent with levels observed throughout the province. Possible sources of local contamination were observed at a number of wells, including wells in close proximity to livestock facilities, manure stored beside the well head, fuel storage near the tested water supply or chemicals (pesticides) near the well. The levels of selenium, arsenic and uranium are found naturally in the rock and sediment within the aquifers, and are not related to the Transgas project.

The Government of Saskatchewan has always advised that private well owners should have their groundwater tested regularly if they are using it for domestic supply. Regional Medical Health Officers can provide advice to private well owners on appropriate treatment options.

Saskatchewan Watershed Authority staff will work with area residents to identify actions needed to protect their water supplies. All well owners need to follow best management practices for their ground water wells: locating the wells away from possible contamination sources; proper well construction, annual testing of water quality and appropriate treatment.

For More Information, Contact:

Dale Hjertaas
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Phone: (306) 787-2892