Our Water is at Risk

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By Seth Steiner, Los Alamos

If we want to continue to have clean water for drinking and ag use, we need to step up. A company called ERG is planning a huge increase in oil production between Los Alamos and Santa Maria. These hundreds of oil wells would require a large amount of natural gas to power the steam generator engines. The gas would be supplied by an 8-inch in diameter pipeline to deliver 25 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas. To put that in perspective, it is more natural gas than all residential use of natural gas in the entire county. 

Natural gas is methane, a highly flammable, combustible gas that can result in pipeline explosions, water pollution and toxic air releases. ERG's natural gas pipeline would overlay the San Antonio Creek Groundwater Basin in Los Alamos, our primary source of water. The natural gas pipeline would go under Highway 135 and San Antonio Creek.

The San Antonio Groundwater depth is pretty shallow there, at approximately 130 feet below ground surface near SR 135. Construction of the pipeline puts the stream and groundwater at risk. On an on-going basis, the gas pipeline presents a significant danger of explosion and leaks.

The pipeline would run adjacent to U.S. 101 for about 1,900 feet. A gas release in these areas could readily encounter ignition sources from vehicles traveling on these highways. Recent accidents in California involving natural gas pipelines are a reminder that gas pipelines near roadways can pose a serious hazard to the public. Given traffic volumes on U.S. 101, and that occupants of vehicles could be directly exposed to a vapor cloud fire hazard due to the gas pipeline, this impact is significant.

For the sake of our water quality, and our safety, we need to be there when this matter comes before our Planning Commission and our Board of Supervisors. Even if you choose not to offer public comment in person or by mail, your presence at the public meetings is effective in itself.


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