It was in May 2014 when the Dakota Access Pipeline project was first announced. Two years after, the multi-billion-dollar project by Energy Transfer Partners or ETP started the construction after getting 200 permits to build at various water crossings, which was granted by the Army Corps of Engineers.
That was what the Standing Rock Sioux tribe was challenging when they filed a lawsuit to stop the set-up of these pipe systems. They are voicing out that the project will contaminate their water source at Lake Oahe and disrupt sacred burial sites and artifacts.
Tensions have been mounting ever since the Texan company started its pipeline construction.
On ETP’s end of the bargain, they maintained that the project will boost local economy since it will generate more or less 8,000 to 12,000 jobs. It will also help local government revenue in the form of increased property and income for North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Iowa, which will in turn translate to support services for citizens.
On the other end of the spectrum, support for the American Indian tribe’s cause is rapidly drumming up, with Hollywood celebrities from Leonardo de Caprio to the cast of DC’s Justice League, joining in the fray to fight for the stoppage of the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
For a much recent update, ETP has voluntarily halted construction around the Lake Oahe area, but has made it clear that it will only be temporary.
Now the DAPL issue is far from over, but we can definitely learn a lesson or two on infrastructure from what’s happening:
1. Development sometimes comes with a price. Unbridled growth can be development – or it can also be cancer. While we need to prosper as a civilization, development aggression can also lead people to forget the essence of living. The Native American saying aptly describes the danger of the disconnect between nature and humans:
When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.
When public infrastructure or asset is built at the expense of nature, or of a certain group of people, it ceases to be true development and becomes a cancer.
2. A well-planned public project is inclusive. Great projects will consider future infrastructure management implications. An asset can either be for profit or for public service. The best infrastructure management planners must strike the balance between both.
That’s why in the planning process, it is important to get the pulse of the people regarding any proposed infrastructure project.
3. Planning is king. Why risk having problems when you can avoid them in the first place? When engaged in infrastructure asset management planning, how well you prepare will determine the how seamless your implementation will be.
Careful planning also means identification of risks and managing those risks. In a way, this would let you either prevent a crisis before it hits or come up with several options to mitigate an expected crisis.