Geothermal/Lands and Realty

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Geothermal Lands and Realty

Lands and Realty
Present, Potentially Affected

State and federal regulations ensure the longstanding ecological health and resource sustainability on geothermal lands and realty. Road maintenance, pipeline construction and location, land reclamation, and rights-of-way (ROW) grants are examples of government provisions to accomplish these goals.

Lands and Realty Impacts & Mitigation

Land disturbances occur during geothermal site development. Well pad impacts and mitigation measures are found below, followed by other land disturbance variables.

Well pads construction and monitoring:

  • During drilling activities, a reserve pit is constructed for the temporary storage of water, drill cuttings and waste drilling mud. Upon the completion of drilling activities, the reserve pit will be filled with any remaining stockpile materials. Due to heavy land impacts, it is most likely that well pads, reserve pits and evaporation ponds will not be reclaimed.
  • During drilling activities, all personnel is to remain in a safe space and all stages or laydown areas would be on construction well pads.
  • On BLM managed land, ‘blow-out’ equipment is to be installed and accompanied by an action plan.
  • Barite (barium sulfate) increases the hydrostatic pressure and injection fluid density to mitigate uncontrollable flows and ‘blowouts’.
  • Well bore solutions would consist of non-toxic, bentonite clay-water or polymer-water mix due to its stable temperatures in mud. To mitigate solution clumping and corrosion, increase mud additives.
  • To mitigate unwanted wellhead tampering from humans or wildlife, place an industrial gate atop the well opening

To decrease land disturbance, construct wells near or within an existing evaporation pond to decrease impacts from 100-year storm events, grade the project area to direct runoff from the construction site away from well pads

Roads: Existing roads will be used for geothermal traffic before constructing new roads to reduce widespread land impacts. If wet road conditions exist, remaining ruts greater than four inches deep will be repaired by the “Authorized Officer” to reduce vehicle and road damage.

Pipelines: To find underground utilities locations when on a federal mineral estate, contact the BLM. If these utilities are to be constructed for the first time, ensure gas lines are properly labeled and avoided. All pipelines must be labeled and constructed beneath unpaved roads, as to not weaken paved road infrastructure.

Transmission: A ROW grant must be acquired to mitigate power transmission delays. Work with the land manager to develop a plan. Any communication towers on site such as cell phone, radio, and broadband also require ROW grants and planning. Bureau of Land Management-Energy

Traffic: All traffic must be coordinated through a Traffic Management Plan. This mitigates the construction and operational traffic impacts between geothermal, mining, and irrigation maintenance.

Construction: To alter fences, there must be a valid permit, a written agreement from the affected owner(s), and all expenses are to be paid by the leaseholder. These mitigation measures ensure compliance with state and federal entities.

Trash: Excess trash or debris is to be removed from the geothermal site and disposed of at an authorized site to mitigate contamination to employees and equipment. Reclamation: When reclamation occurs, crossing methods and transmission procedures must be approved before construction. Reclamation happens when roads and facilities are labeled as dormant and rights to use them are revoked. Complicating factors include shared facilities or roads used for mining, hunting, or other energy development. Well pads and roads may be recommended for site relocation to improve active infrastructure management. Reclamation also addresses efforts related to returning the site to its original state upon project completion. Common mitigation categories include: trash, surface, visual, pit closures, well abandonment; invasive, noxious and non-native species; and the final reclamation and monitoring processes.