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Posted on November 3, 2014

 

Some landowners have recently received letters from Vibra-Tech, a subcontractor of the “Constitution” Pipeline Co., asking permission to test their well water (or spring), and to document the inside of their homes. These requests raise many issues and concerns.

 

All landowners should be aware that the pipeline company has not yet received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity. FERC’s staff has recommended that the location of all springs and wells within 150 feet of the proposed pipeline be identified prior to the start of construction, and stated the pipeline company has agreed to perform pre and post construction testing of these water supplies. As part of the “Blasting Plan” the pipeline company may also be required to inspect the insides of “facilities” in close proximity to blasting. Some of the text from the FEIS is pasted in below. However, until the Commission issues an order, we do not know what conditions will be in the Certificate.

 

Landowners should be aware that allowing the company to document the condition of their home could affect a court’s determination of its value during eminent domain proceedings.

 

The following quotes are from the FEIS.

 

“4.3.1.5 Water Supply Wells and Springs

The projects would be within 150 feet of 2 monitoring wells, 4 private water wells used for drinking water (approximately MP 29 through MP 36), and 20 private water supply wells or springs that are not used for drinking water (table 4.3.1-2). However, Constitution has not completed identifying water wells and springs within 150 feet of construction workspaces in Pennsylvania and New York due to numerous changes in Constitution’s proposed route and lack of survey access. Therefore, we recommend that:

  • Prior to construction, Constitution should file with the Secretary the location of all water wells and springs within 150 feet of the pipeline and aboveground facilities.

 

The Delaware County Soil and Water Conservation District identified several important drinking

water springs (2 to 5 gpm) in the project area. While the pipeline project would not impact the springs, it would cross several springs recharge areas. The recharge areas are characterized by having fractured sandstone bedrock, which may require blasting. Therefore, blasting and contamination are the primary concerns of construction in the proximity of springs.”  [4-38 ->  ]

 

TABLE 4.3.1-2

Private Water Supply and Monitoring Wells and Springs Within 150 feet of the Proposed Projects

 

This table only shows the wells and springs on land that has been surveyed.

 

 

Water Use and Quality

As stated above, Constitution has agreed to perform pre- and post-construction monitoring for

well yield and water quality for private wells within 150 feet of the proposed construction workspace. The closest water supply wells are approximately 240 feet from Iroquois’ proposed project. Constitution would monitor water quantity parameters including water column height, flow rate of existing equipment, water column drawdown, rebound time, volatile organic compounds, total petroleum hydrocarbons, and

 

 

compounds used in blasting (if blasting has occurred nearby). Constitution’s water supply well testing plans would comply with NYSDOH recommendations (2006). Should the integrity of any water supply well be impacted during construction, either water quantity or quality, Constitution would provide an alternative water source or compensate the landowner for a new, comparable well. Constitution has also agreed to file with the Secretary, within 30 days after completion of construction, a report describing landowner complaints received regarding well quality and yield and how those complaints were resolved.

 

In addition, Constitution would conduct additional pre-and post-construction monitoring for

water quality and yield for wells and springs within karst areas (see section 4.1.3.6). This additional monitoring would apply to the three springs that supply water to the Village of Schoharie (Young, Dugan, and Westfall Springs) and three private drinking water wells between MP 115 and MP 124. Constitution would collect measurements before construction activities to establish baseline data and monitor twice per day when construction activities occur within 2,000 feet of wells, springs, or the groundwater flow to springs.   [4-42]

 

  1. CONCLUSIONS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL ANALYSIS

We are therefore recommending that our mitigation measures be attached as conditions to

any authorization issued by the Commission.   [5-1]

 

“[W]e are recommending that Constitution report the location of all water wells

and springs within 150 feet of the proposed pipeline and aboveground facilities. Constitution has agreed to test all water wells within 150 feet of the construction workspace for water quality and quantity prior to and after construction, and provide an alternative water source or a mutually agreeable solution in the event of construction-related impacts.”   [5-3]

 

  1. FERC STAFF’S RECOMMENDED MITIGATION [5-17 -> ]
This section includes site-specific mitigation methods. These are staff recommendations, which are not binding unless the Commission includes them in the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

 

4.1.3.8 Blasting

“Potential impacts on water wells, springs, wetlands, steep slopes, paleontological resources, nearby aboveground facilities, and adjacent pipelines and utility lines could result from blasting.

Potential impacts on water wells and springs are discussed in section 4.3. Constitution has proposed to offer both pre-construction and post-construction testing of water quality and quantity in wells, and to mitigate any damages caused by construction. Any required blasting would be conducted in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations. Constitution has developed a Blasting Plan as part of its state-specific ECPs. As outlined in the Blasting Plan, Constitution would:

  • use the minimum charges needed;
  • use heavy mats to prevent the scattering of debris;
  • use seismograph equipment to monitor the velocity of the blasts at all structures within 150 feet of blasting activities (peak particle velocity would not exceed 4 inches per second);
  • inspect aboveground and underground facilities within 150 feet of blasting activities before and after blasting; and
  • identify potential impacts, and minimization and mitigation measures for areas that have been identified as having steep slopes.
We have reviewed these measures and Constitution’s Blasting Plan and find them acceptable.” [4-15 through 4-16]

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