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Cambridge asks judge to keep pipeline company from cutting down trees on city-owned land near its reservoir off Rte. 2

Cambridge says a pipeline company that wants to cut down trees on a small city-owned parcel near the city reservoir on the Lincoln/Waltham line is disregarding the law, the rights of the town of Lincoln and the purity of Cambridge drinking water in its demand to use the parcel as a way to get heavy equipment to a neighboring lot for installation.

In a response to a suit by Algonquin Gas Transmission of Houston, which wants a judge to immediately grant a "temporary workspace easement" so the company can haul in parts for a replacement ""meter and regulator" station on a neighboring lot it owns, the city acknowledges federal law gives private pipeline companies the right to such easements.

But, the city continues, the law requires pipeline companies to first complete, or at least try to complete, negotiations with both the landowner and any other interested parties.

Cambridge says Algonquin's negotiations to date on the quarter-acre site across Rte. 2 from the reservoir, were hardly what one would call substantive:

Instead, Algonquin submitted to Cambridge one written offer, with a six-day deadline to respond, regarding compensation for the TWS Easement. Since filing this lawsuit, Algonquin has shared further details regarding its permitting compliance process and construction plans. Cambridge has learned from these materials that Algonquin does not intend to begin actual site-work until July 8, 2024, and Algonquin has alternate plans indicating it can complete its project with substantially less impact upon the Watershed Land.

A July 8 start date would give the company and city more than enough time to work out some sort of arrangement that lets Algonquin replace its current station, which sits on rotting wooden supports, while ensuring protection of Cambridge's water.

Also, the company has never said word one to the town of Lincoln, to which Cambridge had granted a permanent "conservation restriction" on the land, meaning that Lincoln is as much a party to what happens to the land as Cambridge.

Finally, Cambridge argues, special care needs to be taken to protect Cambridge's drinking water - which is why the city bought the lot in the first place:

Contrary to Algonquin's assertion, the public interest is better served ensuring the continued preservation of the Watershed Land. A construction delay that might result in a temporary delay of additional gas supply is nothing in comparison to long term degradation of a major municipal water supply and mature forested watershed protection land. Looking to the future, fossil fuels will hopefully become a de minimis contribution to the energy environment and petroleum product pipelines will be infrastructure dinosaurs dug from the land and displayed in museums. However, the need for clean, fresh drinking water will never evaporate and Cambridge has a duty to ensure the Watershed Land can continue generating this precious natural resource for the public good.

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"However, the need for clean, fresh drinking water will never evaporate..."

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