Area of uranium mining contains drinking water
The Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District was formed by voter approval in November 2001. The seven-member board of directors has worked diligently these past 10 years to develop the science and to gather empirical data in order to provide a sound basis for managing the groundwater in Goliad County.
GCGCD is committed to the protection, preservation and conservation of groundwater as required for by Chapter 36 of the Texas Water Code and as stated in the management plan mission statement. The GCGCD motto is, "May we be responsible stewards of our natural resources."
GCGCD has recently completed another round of water quality testing, ongoing since 2006, in order to assure that the drinking water quality remains good to protect human health and to protect the food quality of the livestock industry.
The water quality results again verified that the groundwater is drinking water quality and the results are consistent, they do not vary from one test to the next. In a few weeks, GCGCD will be conducting the spring water level measurement of approximately 100 wells across the county.
GCGCD pays special attention to activities that have the potential for contaminating the county's drinking water supply. These include the proper spacing of water wells from septic systems, disposal wells, in-situ uranium mining and oil-and-gas activity.
To date, the activity associated with the Eagle Ford Shale drilling and fracking operation has not occurred in Goliad County.
Recently, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved an in-situ uranium mining permit in the Ander area of northeast Goliad County, subject to the approval of an aquifer exemption by the Environmental Protection Agency. Why are we attempting to mine uranium in a drinking water aquifer?
In December 2010, Energy Resources International Inc. released a report on uranium demand and supplies for the United States Department of Energy. In Section 2.1.4 of this report, ERI states that current and under development capacity along with already mined uranium exceeds the amount of uranium necessary to meet requirements through 2023. Add to this the current agony that the Japanese people are experiencing, and we ask is nuclear energy a responsible action?
The required aquifer exemption request for the above mining project is for 423.8 acres and includes the top four drinking water sands. This will have an impact on approximately 21,360 acre-feet or 7 billion gallons of drinking water. The requested aquifer exemption requires that this be designated as contaminated water. GCGCD has many water quality test results from water wells in and around the aquifer exemption boundary and these tests show this to be drinking quality water.
With population growth, there is a greater requirement for water, food and energy. Drinking water is the lifeblood for survival. Fresh water is required for irrigation to provide adequate food supplies. There are many energy options. Some energy sources require vast amounts of water. One example is the mining and power generation associated with nuclear power. On the other hand, wind and solar power has an infinite fuel supply and does not consume water supplies.
There needs to be a balance between economic development and water stewardship to provide for the future. Contamination and depletion of the drinking water aquifers and of surface streams does not manifest itself as the work of an educated and responsible society.
Art Dohmann is a member of the Goliad County Groundwater Conservation District Board of Directors.