Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Water Tests Set before Drilling at Monksville

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Water Tests Set before Drilling at Monksville

Article excerpt

WEST MILFORD -- An environmental group is having Monksville Reservoir's water quality tested so a comparison can be made when the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.'s project is under way.

As part of its Northeast Upgrade pipeline expansion project, the gas transportation company has received state and federal approvals to pull a 30-inch natural gas transmission line from West Milford under the reservoir to a staging point on the opposite side of Monks Mountain in Ringwood. The process, known as horizontal directional drilling, is often employed in areas where trenching to lay pipes, conduits and cables is too costly or infeasible, as is the case with the 505-acre Monksville Reservoir.

The 40-mile Northeast Upgrade involves adding five loops to an existing line in parts of Sussex, Passaic and Bergen counties, as well as Pennsylvania.

To help ensure the estimated $14 million project doesn't harm the environment, the non-denominational Pompton Lakes-based Franciscan Response to Fracking signed a contract with West Milford-based Environmental Laboratory Network and QC Laboratories for a baseline water-quality study.

The Monksville Reservoir is a vital link in the Wanaque Reservoir chain serving more than 3 million North Jerseyans.

More than 30 inorganic, organic and biological parameters were included in the study, according to the activists, who are concerned the project could introduce non-toxic drilling fluids and rock debris into the reservoir. The anti-fracking group has said the project should be monitored closely to ensure environmental promises in the project's proposals are realized.

"Initial review of the data confirms that the pre-construction quality of reservoir water is excellent," environmental engineer and group member Jerome Wagner said. "It is helpful to have a baseline, pre-construction analysis available. That way, if anyone suspects that the water quality at the reservoir has been compromised by the pipeline project, a comparison can be easily made and remedies undertaken in a timely fashion."

Not safest option

Horizontal boring was not the only option to bridge the gap, but state and federal officials ruled out circumventing the reservoir and cutting through otherwise undisturbed Highlands habitat, including sensitive conservation zones. …

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