New BLM Monitoring Well Is Not Adequate Protection Against the Threat of Geothermal Contamination
Deep Geothermal Monitoring Well Still Necessary to Protect Mammoth Lakes’ Water Supply
(MCWD news release)
Mammoth Lakes, CA – Construction is underway on a groundwater monitoring well that is required by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to protect the Mammoth Lakes community’s drinking water supply from contamination or depletion by Ormat Technologies Inc.’s expanded geothermal extraction project, CD IV.
While the construction of the new monitoring well is an important step, it will not provide all of the critical data needed to understand the relationship between the geothermal reservoir and the shallower aquifer systems. To improve groundwater protection, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recommends the installation of a second, deep monitoring well that will provide a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the potential impacts and risks to Mammoth’s groundwater. However, BLM, the federal regulatory agency overseeing the project, has failed to require the multibillion-dollar international energy corporation to do what’s necessary to protect the health and safety of Mammoth’s residents, businesses, and visitors.
“The groundwater monitoring well under construction is only part of the equation. A second, deeper monitoring well is needed to ensure Mammoth’s water supply is properly protected from contamination and depletion — yet regulators haven’t required it, placing our water resources at unnecessary risk,” said Patrick Hayes, General Manager of the Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD).
Two years of scientific data collected by the USGS demonstrate consistent evidence of a hydraulic connection between the Mammoth community’s groundwater supply and the geothermal reservoir— data that clearly demonstrate the risk that Ormat’s operations present to the water supply.
“The Mammoth community deserves safe water,” Hayes said. “It’s unclear why Ormat is choosing to put Mammoth’s precious groundwater supply at risk, when solutions are readily available to protect the water and community. Ormat and regulators need to be cautious, not careless, as they develop and expand energy sources.”
For several years, MCWD has advocated for a responsible and comprehensive approach to monitoring and protecting the town’s water supply from the potentially crippling impacts of Ormat’s new CD IV plant. MCWD is not opposed to Ormat’s project; it is simply calling for a robust, data-driven approach that will protect Mammoth’s groundwater from unnecessary risk.
For more information on the project, please visit http://www.mcwd.dst.ca.us/ormat.html.