Regarding the recent article in the Flathead Beacon, “New Water Quality Standard Rule Proposed in Lake Koocanusa and Kootenai River,” I wanted to provide an update on the Elk Valley Water Quality Plan (EVWQP).
Teck is committed to protecting water quality on both sides of the border, including Lake Koocanusa, and we have made significant progress to date implementing the EVWQP. Lake Koocanusa is a complex water body, formed by the construction of the Libby Dam, and it is regularly impacted by rising and falling water levels associated with water flow management. It is important to note that annual average levels of selenium in Lake Koocanusa have been stable since 2014 and do not show a rising trend.
We have built two water treatment facilities that are now successfully treating 4.6 million gallons of water per day. Further treatment facilities will be completed in the months ahead and in 2021 we will have capacity to treat 12.5 million gallons per day. Teck has invested significantly to implement the EVWQP and we estimate spending a further CAD$350-$400 million on water treatment from 2021 to 2024.
Teck supports a science-based selenium criteria in Lake Koocanusa, however the proposed timing to establish this rule is concerning given that members of the Selenium Technical Subcommittee (SeTSC), that were charged with recommending a standard, requested but were denied more time to provide their recommendations and the lack of consensus from those scientific experts. Of the seven SeTSC members four submitted recommendations, which ranged from 0.6 to 1.5 micrograms per liter. Our hope is that the Board of Environmental Review and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) allows time to complete the collaborative consensus-based process that was previously underway.
We look forward to further engagement with DEQ as this process continues. Teck and the more than 4,000 men and women who work at our operations in the Elk Valley are focused on protecting the environment now and for future generations.
More information on the EVWQP, including water monitoring reports, can be found at teck.com/elkvalley. Teck also shares water monitoring data with the US EPA’s Water Quality Data Portal which is a publicly accessible database.
Senior Vice President
Sustainability and External Affairs
Teck Resources Ltd.
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