Longview Alberta residents want assurances on fracking impacts, 90% of residents call on company, council to commit to water testing

Longview residents push for protection of water from oil and gas operations by Colette Derworiz, February 26, 2013, Calgary Herald
Some residents in Longview, a small community south of Calgary, are worried about the village’s water supply due to oil and gas operations in the area. “We don’t feel like the water is being tested often enough,” said Donna Bieda, one of the residents who signed a petition asking the village or the oil company to put in a permanent monitoring system. On Wednesday evening, the village’s council will hold a public forum to address any outstanding concerns. “We received a petition from our residents,” said Blaine Peterson, chief administrative officer for the Village of Longview. “It was deemed invalid because it didn’t have the right amount of signatures on it, but it showed us there was concern over oil and gas activity in the area.” The concerns come due to hydraulic fracturing or fracking, which uses water to free gas and oil from underground rock. Some suggest the use of fracking could contaminate water.

Legacy Oil and Gas said it’s not currently fracking in the area and hasn’t strayed from the work it’s been doing in and around Longview for nearly 20 years. “It’s just business as usual for us,” said Curt Labelle, vice-president of production with Legacy. “This issue about the water protection, there’s so many bells and whistles in the system to protect it. “We work with Alberta Environment and we work with the (village) of Longview, and there hasn’t been an issue.” Alberta Environment confirmed the company hasn’t found any hydrocarbons in the water, although added it had planned to stop testing because there’s been no problems detected for a couple of years. However, Legacy said they would consider continuing the monthly testing if that’s what the community expects. Both the company and the village will have representatives at the public forum, which is being held from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Village of Longview Community Centre. [Emphasis added]

Longview residents want assurances on fracking impacts, 90% of residents call on company, council to commit to water testing Media Release by Concerned residents of the Village of Longview, February 25, 2013
Concerned residents of the Village of Longview, located 30 minutes south of Calgary, say that an upcoming public forum to address concerns about hydraulic multi-stage fracturing (fracking) operations in the village will be nothing more than a wasted public relations exercise unless the village council and the company, Legacy O & G, commit to ensuring the safety of the village’s water supply.

“Over 90% of residents have already signed a petition insisting that council take the most basic steps to put in place a permanent monitoring system to ensure Legacy’s fracking operations aren’t impacting our drinking water in the future,” says Longview resident , Donna Bieda. “If Legacy is really interested in being a good neighbour, and if fracking operations truly are as safe as the company claims, then it should use the upcoming meeting to announce with council that it is committing in writing to a mandatory monthly water monitoring program in perpetuity, so that residents can be sure this risky process isn’t putting our water in jeopardy.”

The Village of Longview Council entered into two surface lease agreements with Legacy O&G in 2010 to allow fracking to proceed on village common property. In March 2012, residents discovered that council did not include baseline and follow-up water tests of the municipal water supply to ensure that Legacy’s fracking operations in the area are not impacting the village’s drinking water or migrating to underground aquifers. Legacy has thus far refused to add an addendum to the agreement with council to turn its current voluntary risk management project into a permanent, compulsory and scientifically sound water monitoring program.

Council has invited Legacy and village engineers while the ERCB and Alberta Environment declined to attend the community forum on February 27, 2013 from 7:00 – 9:00 PM in the Village of Longview Community Center (Morrison Road a.k.a Hwy 22).  Legacy and village engineers will present their views for the first hour with a coffee break following and residents thereafter will be allowed to ask only one question each.  Based upon this format residents are concerned that voices opposed to the current voluntary testing regime will be marginalized. “To us, a mandatory monitoring system shouldn’t even be a discussion, it should be a given,” says Donna Bieda. “Regular testing doesn’t guarantee water purity and safety, but it is ‘the canary in the coalmine’ to let us know if our water has become poisoned from Legacy’s oil and gas activities. It’s time for Legacy and council to stop talking the talk, and actually walk the walk on addressing residents’ concerns. If this meeting doesn’t announce that Legacy has agreed to what 90% of residents have called for, then it’s just a waste of everyone’s time.” [Emphasis added]

Email Contact for Donna Bieda;  [email protected]

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