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November 17, 2004 - TransGas Issues Statement on Water Quantity and Quality in Asquith Area


November 17, 2004

TransGas Issues Statement on Water Quantity and Quality in Asquith Area

TransGas Limited (TransGas) is developing four underground natural gas storage caverns in the Asquith area. This storage cavern development is essential for providing safe and reliable natural gas service in the Saskatoon area, as the pipeline network alone cannot meet the future needs for natural gas on cold winter days.

The process of developing a storage cavern involves finding an appropriate underground formation that can be "washed" over a period of time to remove the salty remnants in the formation. The wash water (or brine) is then safely reinjected into an underground formation more than 15 times below the level of ground water. Such projects are subject to review by the independent regulatory body, the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority. The Authority issues the permit which allows water use, and employs professional water hydrologists to continuously monitor the development to ensure any environmental concerns are appropriately addressed.

Recently, to help gather more information on any impact the TransGas project is having upon the quantity of water in local aquifers, TransGas voluntarily agreed to accelerate its planned temporary three-month shutdown of the cavern-washing process. While the cavern-washing process may affect the quantity of water in the aquifer, it should not change existing water quality in the aquifer - water is merely extracted for use. Contaminants such as fertilizer, pesticides, manure and urine are known to impact water quality. The TransGas washing process does not use any such contaminants. Naturally-occurring minerals may also impact water quality. Furthermore, the 17 wells tested and identified by the Authority today receive their water from the local near-surface aquifers rather than the much deeper Tyner Valley aquifer from which the TransGas project is drawing water.

Before the Asquith project was started in summer 2003, TransGas gathered water samples in the Vanscoy area, had the samples tested by the labs of Saskatchewan Health and provided the results to the landowners and the Authority. At that time, the presence of nitrates was identified at some locations, though TransGas did not request testing for uranium levels. In TransGas' continuing conversations over the past year with the Authority, no linkage has been found between the cavern project and changes in water quality, and as such, TransGas has continued to operate under the provisions of its permit.

TransGas continues to communicate with the Asquith community about the status of its cavern project. TransGas plans to proceed with advancing its planned temporary shutdown in December and will use the intervening days to install monitoring equipment so exacting scientific data on current water levels can be gathered. The levels will then be monitored and the results communicated back to the local community. In the event the Authority finds any relation between water quality and the TransGas cavern project, the Corporation will immediately abide by the Authority's direction in response to its water use permit.

For further information, please contact:

Dick Graham
Executive Director, Engineering and Technology
TransGas Limited
306.777.9602 (office) 
306.536-6845 (cell)
Email: dgraham@transgas.com

Dave Burdeniuk
Manager, Communications
SaskEnergy/TransGas
306.777.9842 (office)
306.535.6569 (cell)
Email: dburdeniuk@saskenergy.com