Dakota Rural Action board member and friend of the blog Paul Seamans explains to readers of that Sioux Falls paper the damage Keystone XL could do to South Dakota’s water supply:
The Cheyenne River valley is a very wide, deep valley, and the Cheyenne River flows directly into the Oahe Reservoir above Pierre. The mainline shutoff valve for the Keystone XL on the north side of the river is 16 miles from the mainline shutoff valve on the south side of the river. A 36-inch diameter pipe will hold around 4.5 million gallons in those 16 miles. A conservative estimate is that 40 percent of a pipeline will drain back if there is a break in the bottom of the river. This would amount to at least 1.8 million gallons of dilbit that would spill into our drinking water source. The massive spill into the Kalamazoo River more than four years ago was only half that amount. The risk that comes from building the Keystone XL pipeline would far outweigh any benefits. Our water is too valuable a resource to expose it to such a threat [Paul Seamans, “Pipeline Poses Threat to SD Water,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.05.18].
Everything is connected: the Cheyenne River and the other watersheds Keystone XL would cross in West River flow into the Missouri. The Missouri flows to Vermillion, where the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System is pumping millions of gallons of water per day and will ultimately serve over 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. If concerns about drinking water don’t spur our leaders to caution about Keystone XL, perhaps they’ll respond to a reminder that businesses and big dairies are counting on Lewis & Clark for a clean water supply. Poison the Cheyenne River, and ultimately you could poison East River dairies.
Seamans lives in West River. Keystone XL will run through his land near Draper. He’s worried about problems Keystone XL could cause well down river and beyond our borders. The Public Utilities Commission should show similar concern when it hears TransCanada’s application to renew its construction permit for Keystone XL this summer.