According to their facebook page today, a conservation group in Florida convinced Sabal Trail to steer clear of their springs. Or did they? The “written assurances” they they got from Spectra’s Andrea Grover say “preferred” and “currently”. In any case, some of Ichetucknee Alliance’s positions are just as valid in WWALS’ watersheds.
Here’s an excerpt from their position, Ichetucknee Alliance Pipeline Position Paper, 21 August 2013,
Pipeline construction carries the potential for irreversible damage to the river and the springs. The source of the Ichetucknee River and its associated springs is underground water that flows through cavities in porous limestone that has been described as looking like Swiss cheese. Any change to this network of underground water conduits has the potential to siphon water away from the river and springs.
One wrong move during pipeline construction could cause us to lose the Ichetucknee forever.
Pipeline operation, either now or 50 years from now, creates a safety hazard and carries the potential for irreversible damage to the river, springs, and wells of area property owners. Pipeline failures can cause explosions that result in human casualties and the loss of property and businesses. Through September 28, 2012, Florida had experienced 56 significant pipeline accidents that resulted in six fatalities, 23 injuries, and $40.6 million in damage. (3)
One bad accident could change the network of water conduits underneath the Ichetucknee and siphon water away from the river and springs, causing us to lose the Ichetucknee forever.
Those points are just as valid for the Withlacoochee River, which is in the same kind of limestone as the Ichetucknee River. After all, the Alapaha River already goes completely underground at one point, and the Withlacoochee already feeds into groundwater north of Valdosta. Valdosta already had to drill its water wells deeper to avoid contamination from that source. What happens to agriculture and cities downstream if a pipeline accident makes it go underground elsewhere? The current “preferred” pipeline path crosses the Withlacoochee River twice.
Here’s the “written assurances”, which actually come from Andrea Grover of Spectra Energy, not FPL, and are full of caveats:
From an email from Andrea Grover of Sabal Trail to John Jopling of the Ichetucknee Alliance on Sept. 27, 2013, shared w. permission of John Jopling, below. (Yes, we note use of the word “currently.”)
“Good afternoon Mr. Jopling,
Amy Albury forwarded along your letter dated September 23, 2013 regarding Sabal Trail’s routing in the Columbia / Gilchrist counties area. Sabal Trail has moved its preferred survey corridor to the west. We currently do not cross the Ichetucknee River, nor does this pipeline route affect Columbia County. We will be sending letters notifying those landowners along original route of this change in the near future.
I hope this is helpful. Should you have any further questions about Sabal Trail, please let me know.
Thank you, Andrea Grover”
I don’t know when Ms. Grover sent that letter, but Sabal Trail Transmission (which is controled and mostly owned by Spectra Energy) filed that map above with FERC Friday 15 November 2013 in its SABAL TRAIL PROJECT, DRAFT RESOURCE REPORT 10, Alternatives, FERC Docket No. PF14-1-000, Initial Pre-Filing Draft, November 2013. This is the same Andrea Grover who promised us in Lowndes County back on 16 October 2013 that Spectra would make their list of landowners available in their forthcoming filing with FERC. She neglected to mention that Sabal Trail had already filed a version on 4 October 2013. Or that both that and the landowner list they filed 15 November 2013 require a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) along with a FOIA request. Which makes it rather useless for contacting landowners.
I don’t know about Ichetucknee Alliance, but I’d want stronger assurances than that, and from somebody with more authority than a Director of Stakeholder Outreach at Spectra Energy (which is how Ms. Grover bills herself on her LinkedIn page).
Perhaps they should try to get assurances from Spectra Energy CEO Greg Ebel. Oh, wait, he was the one served with that Final Order for $134,500 in penalties for five different items by PHMSA in December 2012; items about not following federal regulations and Spectra’s own internal company procedures. Somebody tell me: who exactly at Spectra could a water conservation alliance trust for assurances?