HDD: An Environmental Home Run

The Last Word
By John English | December 2010 Vol. 65 No. 12
John English

Successful HDD projects are complex but require three basic components; proper design, accurate guidance and the ability to remove the formation creating a clean, straight hole that will accommodate the line being installed. The environmentalist must understand the interworking of the entire procedure and exercise their authority ensure that proper methods are planned and utilized. Even today, most will agree that restrictions on a contractor’s ability to perform these fundamentals expand the likelihood of a negative result. The problem is that the ability to properly perform each of these vital aspects of work is being negotiated away long before the HDD contractor becomes involved. Since the consulting environmentalists have nothing at stake, self justification for their presence must take the form of disrupting the progress of the contractor. Harmless incursions that impose no long or short-term environmental impact needlessly become drama filled confrontations.

Bad judgment
Environmental oversight is necessary, but stupidity can't be excused by simply playing the environmental card. Pages could be written about projects shut down because of a dead fish or tracking wire required to be an inch above the ground so snails could crawl under it or ridicules mandates concerning arbitrary pressure readings or restrictions against use of river water requiring contractors to instead haul treated water from miles away using dozens of eighteen-wheel haul trucks, creating a much greater environmental footprint (not to mention the increased traffic danger to the local residents), than simply using the water direct from the river; especially since the city's treated water comes from the river anyway. These examples, which could go on forever, are not extreme and are not the exception. Almost every project has a degree of mandated foolishness with no environmental benefit being realized.