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
"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:
Saskatchewan Watershed Authority
Phone: (306) 694-3963