Enbridge Energy’s Water Usage Draws Criticism Amidst Drought

In response to the drought, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suspended some of Enbridge’s permits to draw surface water. At the same time, the DNR has also increased the total amount of groundwater Enbridge can remove at its construction sites to nearly 5 billion gallons. That has Line 3 opponents concerned. 

Tiffany Bui reports: 

 

Line 3 pipeline opponents are raising concerns about Enbridge Energy’s water usage during a drought.

 

In response to the drought, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suspended some of Enbridge’s permits to draw surface water. At the same time, the DNR has also increased the total amount of groundwater Enbridge can remove at its construction sites to nearly 5 billion gallons. 

 

Kristy Dolph, a research scientist at Science for the People, said that groundwater is often connected to wetlands, which are sensitive ecosystems.

 

“There’s a concern that if a wetland was drained … that wetland would now be considerably drier than it would normally be,” said Dolph. “And you could [lose] sensitive species. And that also encourages a kind of ongoing degradation because invasive species can handle those types of conditions more easily.

 

The DNR states on its website that this process of pumping out groundwater, called dewatering,  is not expected to have any significant impact on wetlands and other surface water features. 

 

However, Dolph doesn’t know how the DNR can say that with certainty. She says there is no sure way of knowing how quickly or if at all, the water will return to the area once removed – especially during a drought.

 

“That’s why it’s so galling that there was really no government-to-government consultation with tribes. There was really no public notification of this huge increase in the amount of water that Enbridge was permitted to take,” said Dolph.

 

Nancy Beaulieu of the Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging Coalition denounced the dewatering at a press conference in Itasca Park on Tuesday. 

 

“It’s not okay to continue to ignore our treaties. When they take our water without our permission, that’s an assault on our culture, on our people. Our food grows on the water. We are of the water.” 

 

At Shell River, multiple Line 3 activists were arrested Monday for sitting at the river crossing to protest the pipeline. Water protectors have been protesting most of the summer against the pipeline, camping at multiple sites along the construction path. 

 

According to Enbridge, the pipeline is more than 70% complete. 

Photo Credit: Thaiphy Phan-Quang

 

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