Sierra Club warns of Tenaska’s water usage

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010, the Sierra Club held a noon-time press conference in Abilene on the steps of City Hall.A report was released by the Sierra Club entitled, "What Would You Drink if the Well Ran Dry? — Nolan County Water and the Proposed Tenaska Coal-Fired Power Plant". Dr. Lauren Ross from Glenrose Engineering, Inc. presented the report alongside Dr. Jeff Haseltine and Whitney Root, Abilenians Against Tenaska; Jimmy Headstream, Multi-County Coalition; and Peter Wilson, Sierra Club.The 12-page report from Glenrose Engineering, Inc. examined data on water availability and resources being considered by Tenaska Trailblazer Partners LLC's proposed coal-fired plant in Nolan County. Those resources include current water resources in Nolan County, namely the Edwards-Trinity Plateau and the Dockum and Blaine aquifers, but noted that the county's current fresh water usage would be at risk. Even the use of Sweetwater's wastewater effluent volume proved to be inadequate. Should it be used, "historical trends indicate that the effluent generation shortfall could be even greater in future years."Other resources to be considered were proposed water reservoirs not yet constructed and located outside of Nolan County, namely in Abilene (the proposed Cedar Ridge reservoir) and in the Permian Basin. The City of Abilene, however, announced in June of this year that they would not support a water sale, leading to a withdrawal of contract negotiations from Tenaska Trailblazers. The underground salt water reservoirs in the Permian Basin have proved to be too expensive for consideration, in that a desalination plant would need to be constructed.The report concluded that there was not enough available water to support the intensive industrial use for Nolan County's proposed Tenaska Trailblazer Coal Plant. "Even with the water demand reduction from 11,000 to 2,000 acre-feet per year, there is a deficit of available fresh water in Nolan County to meet that demand." The report also noted that "there are also no existing out-of-county water resources to meet the proposed Tenaska water demands."In regards to the press conference and report, Dr. Greg Kunkel, Tenaska Vice President of Environmental Affairs, stated: “We have always understood that water is a valuable resource in Nolan County. The Trailblazer Energy Center will secure a water supply that meets the minimal needs of the project while maintaining the region's ability to grow.”For a detailed look at the report, visit our website at, where a complete copy of the report will be available to read.