in ,

Big Company’s Water Usage Leaves State Residents With Barely Enough To Live

Source: Flickr/Márton Borzák / Venture Global

With the recent development of Venture Global’s $4.5 billion liquefied natural gas export facility in Plaquemines Parish, residents have become increasingly concerned about the plant’s intensive water usage and potential impacts on the regional water supply.

As the facility ramps towards its expected operational status in 2022, questions remain regarding whether Venture Global’s permitted water allotment of 475 million gallons per year from the Mississippi River is sustainable and equitable for the parish. Striking the appropriate balance between economic development and environmental stewardship continues to challenge community leaders and industry representatives alike.

Venture Global’s LNG Facility Strains Local Water Supply in Plaquemines Parish

Venture Global LNG’s export terminal under construction in Plaquemines Parish has immensely strained the local water supply. Records show the facility consumed over 10 million gallons of water between May and October 2023, exceeding the maximum projected daily usage of 100,000 gallons indicated in the company’s environmental impact statement.

Source: Policy Integrity at NYU Law

This volume represents a sizable portion of the total water supply for residents in the Port Sulphur district, who faced periodic water shortages and low pressure during the summer of 2023. Local government officials issued an urgent plea to residents in August 2023 requesting immediate water conservation measures to address surging demand that left some without potable water.

Increase in Water Consumption

That same month, Venture Global’s facility utilized over 1 million gallons of water, accounting for 13% of total water usage in the Port Sulphur district. This proportion rose to 24% in September when a local high school was forced to close for days due to a lack of water pressure.

Source: Unsplash/Martin Adams

According to public records, Venture Global was the single largest commercial water consumer in the Port Sulphur district for July, August, and September. The company’s LNG export terminal is its only project in Plaquemines Parish, indicating the facility is responsible for sizable water usage.

Denial of Certification

While Venture Global’s construction continued unabated, residents reported lacking potable water and facing increased water bills. In an October 15 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), local advocates urged denial of certification for the LNG terminal, calling Venture Global’s industrial water use “unconscionable” given the lack of water for basic community needs.

Source: Unsplash/Ant Rozetsky

However, several days later, Plaquemines Parish President Keith Hinkley wrote to FERC claiming Venture Global’s water use had been “truly insignificant.” FERC subsequently approved Venture Global’s request to expand its workforce and accelerate construction.

Demand Over Supply

According to records and reports, Venture Global’s LNG facility in Plaquemines Parish has placed sizable demands on the local water supply to enable its construction. This demand has coincided with periodic water shortages for residential users in the same service area, raising questions about the balance of priorities and the facility’s impact on community resources.

Source: Unsplash/zhang kaiyv

While the total volume of water utilized by the project remains unclear, available data indicates usage has already exceeded the maximum amounts indicated in Venture Global’s initial proposals to regulators.

Rapid Development of Natural Gas Production Overwhelms Infrastructure

Public records from the Guardian reveal that between May and October of 2023, the LNG producer used up to a quarter of all water in Mazarac’s district. According to county officials and the water district’s contractor, extreme heat, drought, infrastructure failures, and saltwater intrusion impacted supply during this period.

Source: Unsplash/Marcin Jozwiak

However, Venture Global’s water usage also surged, suggesting the export terminal project demanded more resources than the company had projected. Venture Global appeared to exceed its forecast of 100,000 gallons per day, using over 3.5 million gallons in October.

Intensified Climate Crisis

Plaquemines public works representatives said they aim to increase supply and storage capacity through new treatment plants and conversations with Venture Global and consultants. However, the climate crisis is expected to intensify issues like drought, subsidence, and saltwater intrusion in the region over time.

Source: Unsplash/Marcin Jozwiak

Although the water district repaired infrastructure to ease 2023 shortages, officials anticipate more frequent problems and greater demands from the LNG terminal. While asking residents to minimize lawn watering during shortages, officials did not seem to prioritize residential supply or restrict Venture Global.

Environmental Impacts of LNG Development on Water Resources

Local advocates argue that industrial usage of this scale is unethical, given that residents struggled to meet basic water needs during this time. The water demands of Venture Global and related companies have coincided with urgent calls from the Plaquemines Parish government for residents to curb water usage due to surging demand and limited supply.

Source: Shutterstock/SujoyB

While residents dealt with non-potable tap water and rising water bills, the LNG terminal project continued unabated. Critics argue that during a shortage, priority should be given to providing for essential human and residential needs before large-scale industrial usage.

Calls for Conservation as Venture Global Taps Local Aquifers

Public records show that Venture Global, an LNG producer constructing a terminal in Plaquemines Parish, used up to a quarter of the local water supply this summer, straining resources during an extreme drought. The water issues came to a head in August and September.

Source: Unsplash/Chris Flexen

Local officials and residents voiced concerns about prioritizing a commercial operation over basic residential needs. Jordan Biggs, a resident, said, “We’re being told to conserve water, but Venture Global is getting to use all the water from our pumping stations.” John Sabo, a water expert at Tulane University, said officials should “look for basic human needs first” during shortages.

LNG Production Requires Massive Volumes of Water

While Venture Global maintained that their “water consumption from the Parish supply has been truly insignificant,” residents struggled with undrinkable water and increasing bills. A concrete company contracted by Venture Global was the second-largest commercial water consumer in a neighboring district, suggesting the company’s impact may be even greater than reported.

Source: Unsplash/Rahul Pabolu

The effects were felt most acutely over the summer. As Venture Global’s use climbed to a quarter of the district’s total volume, the local high school closed for days due to low water pressure. The parish government issued an urgent plea on social media, asking residents to take extreme conservation measures like reusing water and shortening showers.

Regulating Water Usage of Natural Gas Companies

To ensure equitable access to resources, governments must regulate companies that require high volumes of public utilities. Natural gas facilities, in particular, consume substantial amounts of water during construction and operation.

Source: Unsplash/American Public Power Association

Government agencies should establish regulations on the maximum daily water usage for industrial facilities based on average residential consumption in the area. For example, the permitted volume could be capped at 5-10 times the average household usage.

Penalties and Regulations

Companies that exceed these limits would face financial penalties, which could fund water infrastructure improvements in the community. Regulations should also require industrial users to curb usage during droughts and water shortages to prioritize residential needs.

Source: Unsplah/Documerica

In addition to consumption regulations, governments can mandate water efficiency practices for large-scale industrial projects. Requiring recycled wastewater, water-efficient technologies and equipment, xeriscaping, and other sustainable strategies can significantly reduce demand on public water systems.

Investing in Sustainable Water Infrastructure for the Future

To ensure a reliable and sustainable water supply for Plaquemines Parish residents in the future, investment in water infrastructure and conservation efforts are urgently needed. Recent events have highlighted the vulnerability of the current aging infrastructure to supply disruption from factors such as droughts, saltwater intrusion, and pipeline damage.

Source: Unsplah/Justin Wolff/lowie

According to representatives from Plaquemines Parish’s public works department and Inframark, the company handling water infrastructure, the problems experienced in 2023 were attributed to extreme heat, drought, and subsidence-breaking water mains.

Conservation Efforts

The parish has begun discussing with consultants whether to increase the capacity of new water treatment plants or expand existing ones. These conversations include working with Venture Global, the liquefied natural gas producer that has received over $800 million in tax breaks from the state to construct an export terminal in Plaquemines.

Source: Unsplash/Reubx

By October, the parish repaired one of its downed treatment plants, easing pressure on the water supply. The water issues that arose in 2023 will likely recur more often without infrastructure upgrades. According to John Sabo, a water resources expert at the Bywater Institute at Tulane University, “Whenever you have a water shortage, you have got to look for basic human needs first.”

Solutions for Balancing Industry and Community Water Needs

The water issues in Plaquemines Parish during the summer of 2023 highlighted the need to find solutions that balance the water demands of industry and local communities. According to public records and reports, the construction of Venture Global’s liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal strained the area’s water infrastructure and supply, leading to shortages and low pressure for residents.

Source: Unsplash/Abhinav Sharma

The parish government and Venture Global should consider short-term and long-term solutions to address the water supply problems exacerbated by the terminal’s construction. In the short term, the parish could implement tiered water rates to encourage conservation, especially for industrial users.

Supporting The Community Benefits Everyone

Venture Global has an opportunity to support the community that is hosting its new export terminal. The company received substantial tax incentives to locate the project in Plaquemines Parish, so investing a portion of these tax savings in improved water infrastructure could help address the unintended consequences of its development.

Source: Unsplash/Hrishikesh Sarode

Venture Global would demonstrate corporate social responsibility and build goodwill with local residents and government officials by funding system upgrades, purchasing new equipment, or contributing to a desalination plant.

What do you think?

200 Points
Upvote Downvote
Sally Reed

Written by Sally Reed

Sally, a dynamic and viral writer, has taken the literary world by storm with her exceptional storytelling prowess. With an uncanny ability to tap into the collective consciousness of her readers, she crafts narratives that resonate deeply and linger long after the last word is read.

Born with a creative spirit, Sally honed her writing skills from a young age, cultivating a unique voice that blends emotion, wit, and social insight. Her work spans a wide spectrum, from poignant short stories that tug at the heartstrings to thought-provoking essays that challenge conventional thinking.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

New York City Democrat Asks for Answers As Migrants Claim Towed Cars

Prisons Are Shutting Down In The Netherlands Due To Lack Of Criminals