Will Sabal Trail actually move off the Withlacoochee River in Florida? That depends on how you interpret which version of what Sabal Trail has said about its seven (7) different proposed fracked methane pipeline routes through Suwannee County, Florida. And all but one of the five proposed Georgia routes still would cross the Withlacoochee River in Lowndes County, Georgia. Beware that no matter what Sabal Trail says, FERC could pick any of these routes or some other. And no matter what FERC says, other agencies, including state and local, also have to approve permits and other evaluatios of any route, plus both Spectra Energy and Williams Company have recently “suspended” or cancelled pipelines as uneconomic. There is something you and your local elected bodies can do.
Amber Vann wrote for the Suwannee Democrat 19 September 2014, Gas pipeline concerns continue,
The current route also goes through Madison County between those two rivers, as you can see in this map. But on with the article:
However, a geological survey revealed that the pipeline would endanger sensitive water areas both near and downstream of its crossing of the Withlacoochee. Hamilton County commissioners drafted a resolution in August telling Sabal Trail to steer clear of the Withlacoochee.
The survey is the one Chris Mericle presented to the Hamilton County Commission 19 August 2014. Here it is in PDF on the WWALS website, Hydrogeology report on Sabal Trail pipeline by David Brown. Here’s Hamilton County Resolution No. 14-10 7, passed at a special Hamilton County Commission meeting a few days later, with links to all its attachments (including that hydrogeology report).
Now, citizens in Suwannee County are asking our commissioners to follow suit.
Andrea Grover, director, stakeholder outreach of Sabal Trail, told the Democrat Thursday that the company is considering alternative routes in Hamilton and Northern Suwannee County.
“Following our geo-technical evaluations in the area of the proposed Withlacoochee River crossing, taking into consideration stakeholder input from this area,
That sure looks like Ms. Grover on the right in this picture from the FERC and Sabal Trail visit to Hamilton County 10 September 2014 that was organized by Chris Mericle (on the left in the picture). That was the day before Sabal Trail filed that update with FERC.
and in coordination with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Sabal Trail is evaluating potential reroutes to avoid crossing at the current location,” said Grover. “These options would eliminate this crossing of the Withlacoochee River. Sabal Trail is in the process of seeking survey permission to review options for an alternative route. Once all the surveys are complete, Sabal Trail will be able to determine its next steps in determining the viability of any route changes. It is important to note that these surveys do involve field work and assessments by geologists with knowledge of the regional terrain including karst. Should Sabal Trail determine that one of the potential reroutes is favorable, it will be recommended to FERC and the other environmental permitting agencies for consideration. FERC is the agency that determines the final pipeline route.”
Note Ms. Grover’s demand in the middle there for some landowners to permit surveys to get the pipeline off of other landowners.
So that’s now 7 (seven) proposed routes through Suwannee County, Florida:
- The original route crossing the Withlacoochee River from Hamilton County, through Suwannee County, and crossing the Suwannee River into Suwannee County at Duke Energy’s Suwannee Plant:
- Greenlaw Alternative 1 from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing would not cross the Withlacoochee River in Florida, but would cross the Suwannee River into the northeast corner of Suwannee County. And it would still cross the Withlacoochee River just outside of Valdosta in Lowndes County, Georgia.
- Greenlaw Alternative 2 from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing would not cross the Withlacoochee River in Florida, but would cross the Suwannee River into the northeast corner of Suwannee County. And it would still cross the Withlacoochee River just outside of Valdosta in Lowndes County, Georgia.
- Greenlaw Alternative 3 from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing, which would avoid the Withlacoochee River entirely, and apparently also avoid Madison County, by crossing into Florida in Jefferson County, then following the Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) route through Perry, Florida, and Taylor and Lafayette Counties, before crossing Suwannee River farther downstream. That route would also cross the Aucilla and Ecofina Rivers and Columbia, Alachua, Marion, Sumter, and Lake Counties in Florida, plus going through Alachua, Gainesville, and Ocala. In Georgia it would add Camilla, Thomasville, and Thomas County. This is the only proposed route through Georgia that would not cross the Withlacoochee River in Georgia.
- Greenlaw Alternative 4 from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing would not cross the Withlacoochee River in Florida, but would cross the Suwannee River into the northeast corner of Suwannee County, and it would still cross the Withlacoochee River just outside of Valdosta in Lowndes County, Georgia.
- Withlacoochee Alternative 1 (East) from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing, which would avoid the Withlacoochee River and Madison County entirely, by crossing Suwannee River farther upstream:
- Withlacoochee Alternative 2 (West) from Sabal Trail’s 15 September 2014 filing, which would still cross the Withlacoochee River, just farther upstream, and would still cross Hamilton County and then the Suwannee River into Suwannee River, slightly downstream from the Duke plant:
Or is it eight?
Ms. Grover said:
“Sabal Trail is evaluating potential reroutes to avoid crossing at the current location, These options would eliminate this crossing of the Withlacoochee River.”
Only one of the two explicit Withlacoochee alternatives actually would avoid crossing the Withlacoochee River. Are there more alternative routes that Sabal Trail didn’t include in its recent report to FERC?
So Suwannee County, Florida is in every proposed route for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline, and there are at least seven of them, entering Suwaneee County from the west, the northwest, and the northeast, crossing the Suwannee River no matter which way. Maybe the Suwannee County Board of Commissioners should do something. As you can see, the underground limestone topography of much of Suwannee County looks quite similar to the area of Hamilton County that Sabal Trail is proposing to maybe move away from.
At the Sept. 2 BOCC meeting, Patricia Tayman urged the Suwannee BOCC to “join Hamilton County in their efforts to become proactive and informed before making decisions about the Sabal Trail Transmission pipeline.”
More on that in the LAKE blog.