The Sabal Trail Pipeline is scheduled to start up this week, carrying natural gas from Alabama to Central Florida. Federal regulators approved the activation of the project earlier this summer. But environmentalists are worried about potential impacts to the state’s waterways.
The 515 mile underground pipeline spans twelve Florida counties, and runs through the heart of the state’s springs country. Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman is worried how the underground natural gas line could affect the state's signature waterways and springs in the area. He's concerned pollution from the project, like road runoff and drilling mud, could ultimately seep through the porous limestone into the subterranean waterways that make up the Floridan aquifer. That’s the water source for some 10 million people.
“The nature of the springs in the springs heartland of Florida is, not just down at the levels where the aquifer are, but right up at the surface, there’s cracks all through this limestone,” Quarterman said.
Quarterman says activists will continue to monitor the project for possible leaks or sinkholes.
"I see no reason why anyone should accept any risk to the outstanding Florida waters, the Suwannee River, the Sante Fe River, the Withlacoochee South River, or of course to our Withlacoochee River in Georgia," he said.
While Sabal Trail is already complete, the Sierra Club is leading a legal battle against the approval of future pipelines.