A conversation about the pipelines that service our state and our nation.

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PURA Chairman Arthur House
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PURA Vice Chairman John Betkoski III
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Karl Baker, Public Utilities Supervisor of Technical Analysis for the Gas Pipeline Safety/Call Before You Dig Unit at PURA
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Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman has given the go-ahead to the revised Keystone XL pipeline route. That project has been the subject of intense debate since it was first proposed in 2008. And now its fate is up to President Barack Obama.

On a local level, Connecticut is in the midst of its own pipeline controversy... the MDC’s proposal of a 20-mile waterline to service the increasingly thirsty UConn Storrs campus.  Many in the Farmington River Valley - which would provide that water - aren’t happy.  

Today, pipelines for gas, water, oil... we’ll look at what goes into pipeline projects. 


Correction: Mr. Brush was incorrect in stating that the Lower Farmington had been named a Wild & Scenic River. 



Email from Robert

How big is the UCONN complex going to get ? Once they have a pipeline from the Farmington River watershed what is to prevent them from drawing down the groundwater in that watershed. When they want more, what are we going to do ?

Where do we draw the line and say that UCONN (or other external users – large cities, for example) must limit their use to what their watershed can support. Eventually we will reach the Colorado River situation where there are so many entities drawing water from it that it is going dry. In the US, we have large cities built on deserts – only surviving by taking extraordinary amounts of water.

The priority ought to be that you must demonstrate that no water is wasted currently and we must all change our ways to use less. We should use the water equivalent of the MPG measurement when considering supporting any new water usage.

Email from Eileen

I heard nothing so far on the "Where" program about UConn's actual water use - doing better is not an adequate answer. The athletic facilities probably use vast amounts of water - does the Campus fully recycle its grey was (shower, dining dishes etc)? Does the campus infiltrate rainwater, avoid first-flush roof water but trap the rest, to either use on fields or just recharge ground water, the source type they depend on. Rain garden swales alone are not sufficient.

A river diversion from the Farmington, even via reservoirs, is still a diversion, and environmentally should be a "last resort" measure. If the state is to spend millions on a pipeline, they should instead, if not yet done, build the infrastructure for water reuse locally.

Finally, the woman who spoke about using nearby additional ground water said there were contamination issues involved: This is a two-fer "opportunity" for sure. One, treat it and if too expensive to make potable, use for many other grey water purposes such as fields, toilets, fire-fighting and so on, and find out the sources of contamination and contain or eliminate them and benefit in general.

I don't hear really creative and feasible solutions in the discussion, unless the environmental report reviewed these options throughly and costed out different plans - which apparently the public has not seen in any detail.

And by the way, I am a retired water supply person, who worked on the metropolitan Boston system for more than 30 years. That system is now highly efficient. A statewide advisory committee reviewing Boston water needs included the state of Connecticut's attorney general and DEP officials because one of Boston's late 20th century solutions for more water for Boston area was another Conn. River diversion. It is now not only unnecessary it is unlikely to ever be necessary.