Increased water pumping worries opponents of Line 3 pipeline

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Opponents of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline project worry about the potential impact of the company’s plan to temporarily pump up to 10 times more groundwater out of the construction area than before .

Originally, Enbridge was granted permission to pump approximately 1.9 billion liters of water from the trenches it is digging as it replaces the existing and aging Line 3 pipeline along a partially new route. 545 kilometers through northern Minnesota.

But the Calgary-based company encountered more groundwater than it expected, and earlier this month it got a permit from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to pump up to nearly 18 , 9 billion liters for the remaining 230 kilometers of pipeline it has yet to build, Minnesota Public Radio reported Thursday.

READ MORE: Protests continue at Line 3 pipeline site in Minnesota

Indigenous groups and environmentalists fighting the project say the pumping could affect the quality of groundwater and sensitive wetlands, lakes and streams along the route – including wild rice paddies of cultural significance and economic – who are already stressed by drought.

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“Given that we are in a moderate drought, with above average temperatures and below average rainfall, moving this amount of water will have a direct negative impact on the 2021 wild rice harvest,” wrote tribal president Michael Fairbanks and Alan Roy. and Secretary-Treasurer of the White Earth Nation.

But the Natural Resources Department says it has determined that increased pumping will not threaten the sustainability of groundwater or have other harmful impacts on natural resources.

READ MORE: Minnesota court confirms Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval

The agency’s license allows Enbridge to pump shallow groundwater only from the construction area, not lakes or wetlands, said Randall Doneen, a senior department administrator who oversees ecological and water resources. The water is temporarily stored and treated and then released nearby, where it soaks into the ground, he said.

Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner attributed the need to pump more water in part to the company’s decision to use more well point systems – a series of wells installed along the excavated trench that lower shallow groundwater.

The well points produce cleaner water with less dirt and sediment than using traditional sump pumps to extract water from the trench, said Kelton Barr, a consultant hydrogeologist who is not involved in the pipeline 3.

Enbridge’s permit specifies that water removed from the construction trench cannot be discharged directly into a surface water body, such as a lake or wetland. It should be passed through a large cloth bag that filters sediment before water is discharged into well-vegetated upland areas or constructed stormwater ponds.

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Watch below: Some videos from Global News on Line 3.

© 2021 The Associated Press

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