Summer FERC Submission Lays Bare Potential Pipeline Impacts

Written by Emily Weinstock-Collins.

Williams’ proposed pipeline has been on our radar for over a year. From the beginning it was clear that this was a disruptive and unwelcome project, but the full extent of the proposed harm to Lancaster County is still coming to light. Last month, Williams submitted supplemental materials to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

This 800-page document puts numbers to the impacts we already knew were coming, and these numbers are staggering.

Earlier this summer, Lancaster Newspapers highlighted Williams’ plans to use 14 million gallons of water from Lancaster County waterways to test its pipeline. According to the supplemental FERC materials, Williams plans to take approximately 500 thousand gallons from the Conestoga River, 5 million gallons from Chiques Creek, and 8.5 million gallons from Pequea Creek. This is water that many ecosystems at all levels depend on, including us. The water will be sent through the pipeline and then returned to the waterways in different locations, and without any treatment.

Beyond just Lancaster County,Williams plans to extract and replace a total of over 61 million gallons of water for this project. In addition, Williams will damage Lancaster County’s precious farmland. The company will remove over 500 acres of cropland from production in our county alone. They estimate that this will cause a loss of over 750 thousand dollars in agricultural production for Lancaster. This is based on the assumption that farmers will lose 100% in crop production the first year, 50% in the second year, 25% in the third year, and will return to normal production levels the fourth year. We have heard testimonies from farmers elsewhere, however, that their crop yields have not returned to normal even many years after a pipeline was put in. It is reasonable to believe that the damages will be higher than Williams estimates.

These numbers make the proposed pipeline more threatening than ever. These are not risks; these will happen if the pipeline goes through. Williams will take our waterways and land and permanently alter them—and all for private profit. It is imperative that we continue to work to protect our home. Lancaster County simply cannot afford to let this project go through.

The supplemental materials cited can be accessed at the link below. The information mentioned can be found on pages 68 and 413 of the first volume of Environmental Reports.

http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20150608-5187