Friday, July 11, 2014

Mapping Every Crossing - Steve Courtney

In May, Caryn Colman introduced us to Steve Courtney, who is making inventory of the geographic coordinates of the Energy East pipeline crossings of rivers, streams and lakes. Steve sent us the coordinates he's worked out for where the pipeline crosses rivers, streams, and lake shorelines. He's working up all of these in a Geographic Information System (GIS), along with the wetlands and the watersheds along the route and the terrain it would traverse. His information is based on the most recent data release from NRCAN NTS 1:50,000 maps, and he sent us this map of the crossings he'd catalogued.

Steve is using the pipeline route from New Liskeard to North Bay and Mattawa as his prototype, to define what data need to be used to evaluate
the pipeline proposal. He was inspired to create this by the public information provided by TransCanada which he found both erroneous and condescending – “Communities and the public at large do not have access to data to evaluate these projects from a risk assessment perspective.”

Where possible, he will link both Quaternary Geology and the bedrock geologies of PreCambrian and Paleozoic through Ontario, with his loction and surface feature data. In the case of a spill, the geology will determine the contamination potential of a local area.

Steve writes: “It would be naive to rely on the GIS analytical and field work of proponents of such projects. By combining my geological field mapping, environmental geology work, extensive GIS modelling and my teaching experience, I would like to offer my services to those organizations which need independent research and collaborated with individuals with from different disciplines.
“My experience with utilities is that such projects are led by engineers with limited grasp of how the physical landscape is directly linked to the biotic components. Engineers while very well trained and
experts in their field tend not to look beyond their training to the bigger picture. Their focus is to get the job done, and they do this exceptionally well.”

Steve is hoping to map the entire route of the Energy East corridor in a similar manner if an organization or group of partners were to fund the venture so that he could devote the time required to complete the task.

Watch the animated computer modelled map showing how diluted bitumen would spread through waterways in the North Bay area from potential spills on the Energy East Pipeline.

You can contact him at Steve Courtney <>

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