Mammoth Community WD concerned over Ormat’s project, possible contamination of groundwater

By on December 18, 2017

The Mammoth Community Water District (MCWD) has questioned and expressed their concern that a groundwater monitoring well under construction by Ormat Technologies Inc. for their expanded geothermal extraction project, CD IV, is insufficient and could lead to contamination or depletion of Mammoth Lakes community’s drinking water supply.

“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.

Although MCWD contends that construction of the current (under construction) monitoring well is an important step, they have stated that it will not provide all of the necessary critical data to understand the relationship between the geothermal reservoir and the area’s shallower aquifer systems. The current monitoring well is required by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

To ensure and improve the area’s e groundwater protection, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has recommended that installation of a second, deep monitoring well will provide a more comprehensive and accurate evaluation of the potential impacts and risks to Mammoth’s groundwater. However, thus far, BLM, who is overseeing the project, has failed to require Ormat to do what MCWD contends is necessary to protect the health and safety of Mammoth’s residents, businesses and thousands of visitors.

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. 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.”