Cumberland Times-News

Columns

May 14, 2014

Care is needed

Pipeline’s effect upon our watershed is a concern

— Pennsylvania and Maryland officials need to keep a close watch on plans for a major natural gas pipeline that will slice through the Evitts Creek Watershed — the source of Cumberland’s water supply.

The Times-News reported Monday that Spectra Energy of Houston is seeking to construct the Pennsylvania-to-North Carolina pipeline at a cost of $4 billion. The project is said to be four years away from completion.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he is gathering information on the details of the project. The senator’s office said the project needs to go through the Federal Regulatory Commission’s approval process before work can begin.

The pipeline would originate at a compressor station in Bedford, Pa., and continue through Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia, terminating at a Duke Energy site in North Carolina.

The pipeline would cross Centerville, Pa., in the Evitts Creek Watershed, which feeds Lakes Koon and Gordon, the water supply to Cumberland. What effect that would have on the watershed is yet to be determined. Don Llewellyn,  a Bedford County farmer who is on the Evitts Creek Steering Committee, said the watershed area already has an agriculture security area established. He said a group of agriculture producers and property owners have bonded as a group.

The 427-mile pipeline would apparently have a depth of 3 feet. How much of a right-of-way would be required by Spectra Energy is unknown at this point. The Environmental Protection Agency, intervening in a Florida pipeline project recently, narrowed the right-of-way there from  100 feet to 75 feet through upland forests, in order to protect that habitat. It also blocked a proposed route that had the pipe traversing a closed landfill in Lowndes County, Ga.

Such environmental concerns — as well as the rights of property owners — need to be addressed for the Spectra Energy pipeline.

Federal, state and local officials need to closely monitor the project to make sure it is carried out in a responsible and fair fashion.

 

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