WATERLOO — About 50 people who came with questions and concerns about a pipeline that flows between Waterloo and Marshall got answers during the Enbridge community open house meeting held in Waterloo on Wednesday.
“I had questions and I got answers,” Mark Beres, of Mazomanie, said at the meeting.
The pipeline runs almost the entire distance under the Wisconsin Beagle Club property, he said. The club owns 70 acres in Rio.
“This is just phenomenal,” Beres said. “Everyone here is so friendly.”
He said he plans to encourage more of the club members to attend the open houses in the future.
“I showed up to get a better idea of what the comprehensive safety plan is,” Waterloo Alderman Jason Schoenwetter said.
All the city council members received invitations to attend the open house, he said.
“They (Enbridge) are letting the community around the pipeline know what the response will be,” Schoenwetter said.
“I came to talk to the various representatives with the pipeline that is located between Waterloo and Marshall,” Alderman Tim Thomas said.
He said he had a number of pipeline questions and the company representatives “were extremely open about it.”
Thomas, the former police chief in Waterloo, said he has attended a lot of meetings about emergency response situations.
“It is nice to see the number of people here,” Thomas said. “This is nice for the public. There is no excuse not to get answers to questions (with the number of representatives present).”
The Waterloo mayor, along with members of the Medina Town Board, briefly stopped in.
Enbridge has been operating in Wisconsin for more than 65 years. More than 375 Enbridge employees reside in the state.
The Enbridge open houses are part of an agreement with the government following the 2010 oil spill in Kalamazoo, Mich., that caused $1.2 billion in damages.
This is the third year the company has held open houses for the communities located along the various pipelines. Enbridge is required to hold 15 open houses a year.
Waterloo was selected this year due to its location to the Waterloo pumping station and the availability of the Firemen’s Park. Other open houses were held July 9 at the Adams County Community Center and July 11 at Lake Lawn Resort in Delavan.
Invitations are sent to all landowners located within two miles of a pipeline, and municipal officials. For Waterloo’s open house, town, village, city and county officials in Dane, Jefferson and Walworth counties were notified of the meeting.
The invite also was published in area newspapers and appeared on social media.
The goal was to have 50 to 60 people attend, Becky Haase, senior advisor of community engagement, said.
The open houses are an opportunity to share information about the Canadian company’s current operations, including where the pipelines are located, and how they are maintained for safety and integrity of the system;
Also, what products are transported on the pipeline system and any hazards that might be associated with those products; how to recognize and respond to potential pipeline leaks, including who to call in the event of a pipeline emergency; how to contact Enbridge and how to dig safely near pipelines.
Eight different booths were set up around the room of the upper park pavilion to explain everything from what is transported in the pipelines, how to dig safely near the lines, maintenance of the lines, emergency response, to Enbridge “going green.” There also was a model to explain how the pumping station operates.
About 25 Enbridge representatives were available, including those who work at the pumping station between the two local communities up to the regional director.
No expansions of the pipeline are planned right now, Enbridge representatives stated.
“We are here to chat about what is going on,” Haase said. “Many people find the open houses to be informative and we receive positive feedback.”
“It is a wonderful way to meet people and talk about the operations,” she added.
“It is an opportunity to reach out to the community,” Juli Kellner, communications specialist, said.
The booths allow the participants to have a one-on-one conversations with the company representative, she added.
“This is very much telling people we operate here,” Trent Wetmore, Midwest region operations director, said. “So far we are pleased with the turnout,” he said, midway through the event.
Turnout ranges from about 100 to a couple dozen people, he noted.
When participants leave the open house, Enbridge representatives ask if they received the answers to their questions.
“Many answer yes,” Wetmore said.
Each participant also receives a packet of information about the company’s impact on the state’s economy, what has changed since the 2010 oil spill, its approach to safety and emergency response, pipeline safety and contact information.
“Where we see a lot of good is the explanation of how the company operates,” Wetmore said.
Representatives receive questions on repairs, employment with the firm and emergency response.
“Everyone can make their way around and learn what each booth has to provide,” Wetmore said.
The company also provides a light lunch for participants.
“Some of the best conversations happen around the meals,” Kellner said.
“The best way to connect is over a meal,” Haase agreed.
“It is a good opportunity to educate overall,” Wetmore said.