Click here to go to the USGS website with links to their publications about hydraulic fracturing since 2012.
Eagle River Watershed Council: Hydraulic Fracturing & Water an informational panel, Wednesday December 11thDecember 7, 2013
From The Greeley Tribune (Sharon Dunn):
Like the crime scene investigators on television, researchers in northern Colorado will be taking an intense look at water wells throughout the oil patch in a demonstration study in the coming months to determine changes in the water over time. Conducted through Colorado State University in partnership with Noble Energy, the Colorado Water Watch demonstration project will soon begin water table monitoring in test wells at roughly 10 Noble production sites in a real-time look at how the water changes.
“It was conceived not so much as a research project but as a tool to provide information to the public,” said project lead researcher Ken Carlson, an associate professor Civil and Environmental Engineering at CSU. “The oil and gas industry is taking the initiative here to provide some visibility.” Read the rest of this entry »
From email from the Colorado River District (Martha Moore):
Effective immediately, the Colorado River District is accepting grant applications for projects that protect, enhance or develop water resources within its 15-county region. (district map)
Projects eligible for the grant program must achieve one or more of the following objectives:
• develop a new water supply
• improve an existing system
• improve instream water quality
• increase water use efficiency
• reduce sediment loading
• implement a watershed management action
• control invasive riparian vegetation
• protect pre-Colorado River Compact water rights (those in use before 1929)
Previous successfully grant-funded projects have included the construction of new water storage, the enlargement of existing water storage or diversion facilities, rehabilitation of nonfunctioning or restricted water storage / delivery / diversion structures, implementation of water efficiency improvements and watershed enhancements.
Successful grantees can receive up to a maximum of $150,000 (or approximately 25% of the total project cost; in the case of smaller projects, this percentage may be slightly higher) for their project. The total amount available for the 2014 competitive grant program is $250,000. The application deadline is Jan. 31, 2014.
To access the Water Resources Grant Program application, instructions, guidelines, policies, and other details please visit http://www.ColoradoRiverDistrict.org/page_193.
More information can be obtained by contacting Dave Kanzer or Alesha Frederick at 970-945-8522 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More Colorado River District coverage here.
Plastic debris a growing environmental problem
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The impact of plastic waste in the world's oceans runs deeper than previously thought, according to British biologists, who described in a recent study how sediment-churning lugworms could be affected. Those marine worms play a key ecological role as an important source of food for other animals.
The findings, published in a pair of studies in the Cell Press journal Current Biology, suggest that marine lugworms eat less and their energy levels suffer when ocean sediments are heavily contaminated with microplastics.
Proposed oil and gas methane rules: Gov. Hickenlooper makes some headway with the environmental communityNovember 29, 2013
From The Colorado Statesman (Peter Marcus):
…the governor — who has experienced an increasingly tense relationship with environmentalists, a core base of his Democratic Party — still has a lot of work ahead of him if he’s to win the trust of the environmental world.
Much of the controversy rests with Hickenlooper’s support of hydraulic fracturing. The governor, a former geologist, has unequivocally stated his support for so-called “fracking,” despite five local communities having banned or imposed moratoriums on the drilling process. First, Longmont voters banned fracking last year. Then this year, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Boulder joined with five-year moratoriums. Lafayette passed a ban on new oil and gas activities. The bans passed despite big spending by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. Proponents of the bans, a largely grassroots uprising, spent about $27,500 in the four municipal elections, as of the last filings before the election. COGA, however, spent about $883,000 to fight the proposed bans…
Hickenlooper says he is listening. At a news conference on Monday, he said the issue is about striking a balance between the energy needs of the state and the concerns expressed by citizens and communities.
“What we’ve done is work with the environmental community and oil and gas community to try and find compromises and use common sense to say, ‘How can we make sure we get to the cleanest possible outcomes in terms of air quality?’ Yet at the same time recognize that we have businesses here that employ our citizens and are helping solve the energy challenges that we face as a country,” Hickenlooper said, as he proposed new pollution rules for the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt.
The commission met on Thursday when it set a public hearing for February 2014. The tentative date is for a three-day hearing from Feb. 19-21. The commission heard about two hours of public comments from a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including industry leaders and environmentalists, as well as concerned citizens, such as mothers worried about the health of their children.
The thrust of the public comments was on whether the commission should set the proposal for a public hearing. Most of the witnesses agreed that even if the draft isn’t perfect, it should move forward so that the process can evolve.
When the commission conducts its public hearings in February, the comments will focus more on the rules themselves after stakeholders have had a chance to thoroughly review the recently released proposal.
Several elected officials testified in support of setting a hearing for the rules, including Democratic Reps. Su Ryden of Aurora, Mike Foote of Lafayette, and Max Tyler of Lakewood, among others…
Former Sen. Dan Grossman, regional director for the Environmental Defense Fund, represented the environmental side of the debate.
“What you see today here is a remarkable coalition of earnest individuals who came together and decided to try and make something work and address air pollution from the oil and gas sector in a meaningful and reasonable way,” explained Grossman.
Conservation Colorado is also “encouraged” by the proposed rules specifically that it includes methane.
“The proposed rule is a strong step forward to capture emissions from oil and gas facilities of harmful air pollutants that hurt all Coloradans,” said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado.
“Oil and gas development is booming in Colorado and the state must move aggressively to protect our climate, public health and communities,” he added. “Given the devastating impact on Coloradans from climate change and increased ozone pollution, there is no margin for error.”[...]
But not everyone in the environmental and oil and gas worlds is currently on board with the proposals. Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, pointed out that his organization was not included in the stakeholder meetings and did not see the rules until Monday.
“We’ve expressed our disappointment that it wasn’t a larger, broader stakeholder process,” said Dempsey, who added that his organization is currently speaking with members to decide how to proceed…
‘[Governor Hickenlooper] should talk to the people who approved the bans, not the people who oppose them’ — Dan RandolphNovember 28, 2013
From Colorado Public News (David O. Williams/Dale Rodebaugh) via The Durango Herald:
“The fracking ban votes reflect the genuine anxiety and concern of having an industrial process close to neighborhoods,” Hickenlooper said recently in a prepared statement. The statement came after a tally of final votes showed residents in Broomfield successfully passed a fourth so-called “fracking ban” in Colorado.
Fort Collins, Boulder and Lafayette voters passed similar bans by much wider margins earlier this month, but Broomfield’s vote was so close (10,350 to 10,333) that it has triggered an automatic recount.
Christi Zeller, director of the La Plata County Energy Council, said the votes in Boulder and Lafayette are symbolic. Boulder County has some production, but the city of Boulder’s last gas well was plugged in 1999, she said.
“The bans are an emotional response,” Zeller said. “A lot of professional agitators are manipulating people’s response.”[...]
Hickenlooper said mineral rights need to be protected and that the four communities can work with the state’s chief regulatory agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, to mitigate environmental and health concerns.
“Local fracking bans essentially deprive people of their legal rights to access the property they own. Our state Constitution protects these rights,” the governor said. “A framework exists for local communities to work collaboratively with state regulators and the energy industry. We all share the same desire of keeping communities safe.”
But Dan Randolph, director of the San Juan Citizens Alliance, said that Hickenlooper, as a former gas and oil industry employee, doesn’t get it.
Randolph said there are legitimate concerns tied to gas and oil production. He cited health, water quality and noise.
“There is no question that there is an increase of volatile organic compounds in the air during gas and gas development,” Randolph said. “There are and have been serious concerns elsewhere. This is not unique to Colorado.
“He should talk to the people who approved the bans, not the people who oppose them,” Randolph said. “His credibility on oil and gas issues is very low with the general public.”
— jfleck (@jfleck) November 25, 2013
Check out this in-depth article on Brewers for Clean Water, an effort to protect beer's main ingredient. http://t.co/69NhNuXNM1
— U.S. EPA Water (@EPAwater) November 25, 2013
From the Cañon City Daily Record (Christy Steadman):
Jennifer Opila, Radioactive Materials Unit Leader for the CDPHE, explained how the 1988 pumpback system at Cotter functions. Opila said the cause of the Nov. 5 spill was that a joint in the pipeline of the pumpback system broke. She described it as a “catastrophic break,” meaning it was not a “slow and seeping” spill.
Opila said employees found “water coming out of the ground” just north of well No. 333 and “that’s how they knew the pipe had ruptured.”
According to Cotter’s Environmental Coordinator/Radiation Safety Officer Jim Cain, the spill was measured within a 12-hour window and based on inspection times and flow, an estimated 4,000 to 9,000 gallons of water was spilled. A water sample was collected and the analysis reported that .03 pounds of uranium and .15 pounds of molybdenum was found, according to Cain.
Cotter made the required oral report of the spill and provided a requested written report, Opila said, and the pipe was repaired and operable by the next day.
The pipeline is three feet underground and consists of 3,856 linear feet of six-inch schedule 90 PVC pipe and 3,053 linear feet of four-inch schedule 90 PVC pipe.
Vice President of Cotter Mill Operations John Hamrick said there have been three leaks “in three different years, all for different reasons.”
CNN just named their Hero of the Year... and he happens to be, what some have referred to as 'the rivers' garbageman'. Congratulations to Chad Pregracke! From the article:
For nine months out of the year, Pregracke lives on a barge with members of his 12-person crew. They go around the country with a fleet of boats, and they try to make cleanup fun for the volunteers who show up in each city.
Governor Hickenlooper and US Rep. Jared Polis differ regarding Colorado regulation of hydraulic fracturingNovember 20, 2013
From The Denver Post (Allison Sherry):
On the U.S. House of Representatives floor Tuesday, Rep. Jared Polis ripped Colorado’s state regulations involving hydraulic fracturing, saying the growth of fracking in the state “without common-sense federal guidelines, without common-sense state guidelines” has caused friction for his constituents.
Polis, a Boulder Democrat, represents three municipalities — Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins — whose voters earlier this month approved moratoriums on the deep horizontal drilling technique. A fourth town, Broomfield, also had a moratorium proposal on the ballot, but officials are recounting that measure because the vote was so close.
Polis never took a position on the fracking bans, but Tuesday he said fracking “is occurring very close to where people live and work and where they raise families.”
“Yet our state doesn’t have any meaningful regulation to protect homeowners,” Polis said in a floor debate on a series of energy measures. “Unfortunately, the fracking rules are overseen by an oil and gas commission that is heavily influenced by the oil and gas industry. They don’t have at their disposal the independence or the ability to enact real penalties for violations of our laws and their charge is not first and foremost to protect homeowners and families and health.”
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office disagreed, saying ” the Colorado Constitution protects the rights of people to access their property above and below ground.”
Hydraulic fracturing has become a contentious issue-- no one is arguing with that. As of election day, a mere two weeks ago, three Colorado cities approved bans or moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing-- Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette-- while Longmont had already established a ban and is being sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. And don't forget about Broomfield, where the debate hasn't yet ended.
From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):
What do wastewater treatment and economic development have in common? You can’t have growth without the capacity to treat the wastewater that comes with it, according to the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District, which treats and cleans what 1.7 million people in the Denver area flush down the drain every day.
And it’s the continuing growth of the metro area — particularly north of Denver in Adams County, Thornton and Brighton — that the district had in mind when it launched a $415 million project to build a new wastewater treatment plant and a seven-mile pipeline to funnel waste to the plant, says Barbara Biggs, the district’s governmental affairs officer.
The project has been in the works for years. Biggs attended her first meeting on it in 1999. The plant, located at U.S. 85 and 168th Avenue north of Brighton, broke ground in January. It’s about 25 percent complete, and is expected to be finished in 2016. It will serve about 300,000 people in parts of Aurora, Thornton, Brighton, and Denver and Commerce City…
When the switch is flipped, the plant will be able to handle up to 24 million gallons of waste per day — enough to handle population growth in its serve area through 2055, said Biggs, who’s been working on the project since 1999. The plant, located on a 90-acre site, is designed to be expanded as needed up to 60 million gallons per day. That’s big enough to handle the needs of 750,000 people, [John Kuosman] said…
The plant is designed to meet new state regulations that require the district to remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater, in addition to other requirements, before it’s sent into the South Platte River, Biggs said. Removing those two elements from the wastewater stream will reduce algae growth in the river — improving the water quality for fish in the river, people who use it for recreation and also making it easier to treat to drinking water standards, she said.
From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
A woman living south of Silt urged Garfield County commissioners Tuesday to continue groundwater sampling there despite new tests finding no clear evidence of a link between methane and benzene in test wells and natural gas development. Lisa Bracken made her plea after representatives of the firm Tetra Tech presented the county with results from the third phase of a nine-year groundwater study in the area. It was conducted after the 2004 discovery of natural gas and benzene in West Divide Creek. The state blamed a faulty Encana well.
The latest tests involved three pairs of groundwater monitoring wells installed by the county, with each pair drilled to depths of about 400 and 600 feet deep in the Wasatch geological formation. The study found that methane in the shallower wells was biogenic, meaning from microbial sources, whereas methane in the deeper wells was thermogenic, resulting from geological heat and pressure. Thermogenic gas is what energy companies target for drilling.
The Tetra Tech consultants believe all the gas in the test wells is likely naturally occurring rather than a result of oil and gas development. Geoffrey Thyne, a longtime consulting geologist for the county, agrees that the research demonstrates that there is naturally occurring Wasatch formation methane that helps explain at least some of the methane being found in a number of domestic water wells.
But Bracken, who lives near the seep area, believes 600 feet is a suspiciously shallow level to be finding thermogenic gas. She said she also found “astonishing” the widespread detection of benzene, a carcinogen, in test well samples. Those detections were within safe drinking water standards in all but one case, and Tetra Tech theorizes the benzene also is naturally occurring.
County commissioners plan to seek a meeting with Thyne, and state oil and gas and health officials, before determining whether the county should undertake any more research.
Resident Marion Wells of Rulison said after Tuesday’s meeting that the latest research relies on several assumptions, including that carbon dioxide is present to allow for the kind of biogenic process believed to account for methane in the shallower test wells.
From The Durango Herald (Joe Hanel) via the Cortez Journal:
The state spent more than $49,000 to stabilize mercury-tainted material at an illegal gold mill in Mancos. Now the state mining board wants Red Arrow Gold Corp. to repay the money, and it moved Wednesday to revoke the company’s mining permit.
Red Arrow owner Craig Liukko did not attend Wednesday’s hearing in Denver, but in letters to regulators, he blamed the problems on a former business partner and a receiver appointed by a bankruptcy court, who has controlled access to Red Arrow’s property since April.
The state excavated and isolated soil at the mill, and it isn’t currently presenting a hazard, said Loretta Pineda, director of the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety…
More mercury remains to be removed from the Out West mine north of U.S. Highway 160, mining inspectors said. Pineda’s division is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on a permanent cleanup. And she still does not know the degree of pollution the mill produced in the past. The EPA is testing samples to figure out if there was a past risk, Pineda said…
On Wednesday, the Mined Land Reclamation Board found Red Arrow in violation of its order from August to clean up the site and pay a $100,000 fine. The board increased the fine to $285,000, increased Red Arrow’s bond and started the procedure to revoke Red Arrow’s mining permit in the next two months.
As part of the cleanup, the state removed mill tailings from a nearby pasture and the Western Excelsior aspen mill, across the street from the Red Arrow operation. Western Excelsior officials thought they were getting sand to patch holes in their lot, said Kyle Hanson, a manager at the aspen mill. The state did a good job of removing the mill tailings, he said…
The mining division spent its entire emergency fund on the initial cleanup, Pineda said. State officials want Red Arrow to repay them…
The Mined Land Reclamation Board also cracked down Wednesday on another Red Arrow property, the Freda mine west of Silverton. Both portals at the mine have collapsed, and stormwater berms have failed, allowing tainted water an tailings to flow off the site toward Ruby Creek, said Wally Erickson, an inspector for the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety. The board fined Red Arrow $2,500 for the violations at the Silverton mine.
More water pollution coverage here.
From the Northern Colorado Business Report (Steve Lynn):
High Sierra, which has its roots in Greeley, has developed industry-leading treatment processes, allowing oil companies to turn over their used water to a High Sierra facility, where it is treated and transported back to the oilfields.
This year the company expects to recycle about 2,000 barrels of water daily at its Weld County facilities, up from some 1,500 barrels last year…
High Sierra has operations in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, which includes Northern Colorado, and also works in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Kansas. In Weld County, High Sierra owns two water-recycling facilities, one in Briggsdale and another in Platteville, which company representatives believe are the largest such facilities in Northern Colorado.
“The field seems to be moving toward recycling slowly but surely,” said Doug White, vice president of High Sierra Water.
Companies can use more than 3 million gallons of water per well during hydraulic fracturing, a well-completion technique that involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressures to crack tight shale formations and release oil and natural gas. After the well is complete, water flows back to the surface where it is captured and transported offsite. Most of this contaminated water still is disposed of via deep-injection wells, but growing amounts are treated and reused.
High Sierra Water owns nearly half of the 25 deep-injection wells operating in the greater Wattenberg area. These are designated specifically for wastewater and regulated by state authorities. The greater Wattenberg area spans nearly 3,000 square miles north of Denver and through a substantial portion of Weld County.
High Sierra has developed water-treatment systems that remove elements such as barium, calcium, magnesium, silica, strontium and iron so companies can reuse the water for hydraulic fracturing.
The company has the ability to treat water to match the quality of fresh water, company representatives said. In Wyoming, for example, the company operates a water-treatment facility that has recycled more than 32 million barrels of water and discharged more than 5 million barrels of highly treated water into the New Fork River, a tributary of the Green and Colorado rivers…
Noble Energy said in October that it had recycled about 2 percent of its water so far this year, or 600,000 barrels.
But Noble is in the midst of a major expansion of its water-recycling program. Today, about 80 percent of Noble Energy’s water comes from ponds and wells and 18 percent from cities, while 2 percent is recycled. Noble Energy plans to raise the capacity of its program to recycle 5.8 million barrels of water next year, nearly 10 times more than its current level.
Despite the efforts of companies such as High Sierra Water and Noble Energy, water recycling remains uncommon in Northern Colorado despite heavy drilling activity.
It is more common in Western Colorado, where about half of water used in oil and gas production is recycled, said Ken Carlson, a civil engineering professor at Colorado State University.
From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):
Cotter Corp. Uranium Mill officials on Tuesday discovered contaminated water escaped a pump-back system at the mill site but the spill has been contained to the mill property. According to Warren Smith, community involvement manager for the state health department, the release of contaminated water was limited to between 4,000 and 9,000 gallons. The leak occurred at the junction of two pipe sections near the Soil Conservation Service pump back site, which is designed to prevent contaminated surface water from seeping into the neighboring Lincoln Park neighborhood.
“The soil in the area of the release is saturated. It will be allowed to dry so the pipe can be excavated and repaired,” Smith said.
Water samples were analyzed and based on concentration levels present, the maximum estimated release of uranium is limited to 1.1 ounces and the estimated molybdenum release is 2.6 ounces.
Contaminated water usually is pumped, along with groundwater, to an onsite evaporation pond to prevent further contamination in Lincoln Park, which has been a part of a Superfund cleanup site since 1988. The now-defunct mill is in the process of decommissioning and has not been used to process uranium since 2006.
From the Colorado Independent (Shelby Kinney-Lang):
Cotter Corporation informed the health department of the leaking pipes on Tuesday in a “verbal report” delivered over the phone. No health department personnel have inspected the spill site, as yet, and no formal report has yet been filed. Cotter said it will let the contaminated ground dry before excavating and repairing the pipe…
“We’ve got a company looking to walk away from a problem without actually cleaning it up,” said Travis E. Stills, an energy and conservation lawyer who has been working with community groups in Cañon City since the mid-2000s. Stills represents Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste on several ongoing state open records suits that seek information that passed between Cotter, the state health department and the Environmental Protection Agency concerning the uranium mill and the Lincoln Park Superfund Site, but which health department withheld from public review.
Uranium is extraordinarily toxic. The health department reports that if the pipe did in fact leak 9,000 gallons, the concentration in the water of uranium would be 834 micrograms per liter and the concentration of molybdenum, also a toxic chemical, would be 2,018 micrograms per liter. For perspective, the EPA places the health safety level of uranium at 30 micrograms per liter…
“They got a hole in the pipe and it leaked back into the ground,” he said.
Warren Smith, community involvement manager in the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division of the department, insisted there was no danger to public health.
“There is no public health risk here, because there is no exposure to the public,” Smith said. “Health risk depends on two factors: the release and exposure. If there’s no receptor to be exposed to it, where’s the risk?”
Smith said that the health department performs regular inspections of the Cotter site. The most recent was a September inspection. Because the pipe was buried, Smith said it would be a stretch to “characterize it as an [inspection] oversight.”
Smith said it would be a serious lapse if Cotter had failed to report the spill. Inspections don’t occur often enough for the state to have happened upon the spill any time soon.
Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette pass bans on hydraulic fracturing, Broomfield = no by 13 votes (2:41 AM numbers)November 6, 2013
From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):
The votes in four Colorado cities on fracking within city limits — in Boulder, Broomfield, Fort Collins and Lafayette — attracted attention far beyond the state’s borders in recent weeks as the nation debates the pros and cons of the widely used practice. And those involved say the issues raised by the campaigns will continue to be debated for months and years to come.
Boulder’s anti-fracking measure was passing handily late Tuesday, while those in Fort Collins and Lafayette saw smaller margins in the “yes” column.
Meanwhile, the yes and no votes on Broomfield’s fracking measure were fairly close late Tuesday, although at least one anti-fracking advocate — Sam Schabacker, Mountain West regional director for Food & Water Watch — appeared ready to concede defeat there.
“We are witnessing historic victories tonight with the anticipated passage of measures to stop fracking in Fort Collins, Boulder and Lafayette, and what appears to be a narrow defeat of a fracking moratorium measure in Broomfield,” he said in an emailed statement at 10:29 p.m. MST…
Doug Flanders, a spokesman for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, an industry trade group, said his organization…will continue to work with communities about the importance of energy and energy development.
“We never believe a ban is necessary,” Flanders said earlier Tuesday, before the polls closed…
The four initiatives:
• Broomfield: Question 300, which would have imposed a five-year prohibition on all fracking.
• Fort Collins: Its measure will place a five-year moratorium on fracking and storage of waste products related to the oil and gas industry in town.
• City of Boulder: 2H imposes a five-year moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
• Lafayette: Question No. 300 will ban new oil and gas wells in town. (Click here for more on the Lafayette measure, which goes further than the others.)
From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):
Colorado’s oil and gas regulators next month will consider tightening spill reporting rules by going beyond what’s required under a newly passed state law. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rulemaking is slated for its Dec. 16-17 meeting. It was prompted by the need to implement legislation introduced by state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, requiring companies to report within 24 hours exploration and production waste spills of more than one barrel (42 gallons) if they are outside berms or other secondary containment.
The current rule requires 24-hour reporting in the case of all spills of more than 20 barrels, and within 10 days for spills of five barrels or more. Immediate reporting is required for spills of any size that impact or threaten to impact any waters of the state, occupied structure, livestock or public byway. A draft proposal by oil and gas commission staff would eliminate the 20-barrel reference and would require reporting within 24 hours for all spills of five barrels or more, regardless of whether confined within berms or other containment.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has proposed keeping the 20-barrel and five-barrel reporting requirements as they are in the case of spills within contained areas.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is endorsing the proposal for more rapid reporting of all spills over five barrels, said the health department’s oil and gas liaison, Kent Kuster, in written comments to the commission. Otherwise, spills as large as 840 gallons may not be reported in a timely manner, he wrote.
“The majority of well pads are not designed to contain fluids and may contain areas where fill has been used. These fill areas may allow contaminated fluids to move quickly through the soil resulting in greater groundwater contamination,” he wrote.
He said the proposal to require 24-hour reporting for all spills larger than five barrels would result in “increasing the attention to spills and releases and potentially minimizing the impact to ground water.”
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore said during a recent stakeholder meeting on the rulemaking that one point of the agency’s draft proposal is to simplify the rules by reducing the number of reporting thresholds. But he said there’s also concern about the fact that “20 barrels is a fairly sizable release, approaching a thousand gallons.”
While secondary containment prevents lateral spreads of spills, it doesn’t necessarily prevent downward migration, depending on how it’s constructed, and even a 200-gallon spill can be of concern, he said.
While the commission hasn’t yet changed its rules, the new law took effect Aug. 7 and companies have been expected to comply with it.
Kirby Wynn, Garfield County’s oil and gas liaison, told county commissioners Monday that he has been receiving reports since then as required. He said that in his experience there has never been a case where a company hasn’t alerted him to a meaningful spill.
Garfield County will be preparing its own comments on the commission’s proposal.
Meanwhile, a presentation Wynn provided to commissioners shows that in the county, there’s been a gradual reduction in spills outside containment since 2008 and a corresponding drop in the percentage of spills affecting ground or surface water. The commission overhauled its rules in 2008, including tightening them for when containment is required around tanks. The county had 116 reported spills in 2008, rising to 140 by 2010, and declining to 59 last year and 65 so far this year. But spills outside containment numbered 64 in 2008 and just 21 last year. Spills affecting surface or groundwater steadily declined from 15 percent in 2008 to 3 percent last year.
“There’s a lot more containment now” than there was before 2008, Wynn said.
The commission has said that last year about 400 spills were reported statewide, including 66 cases where ground or surface water remediation was required.
UCLA environmental and policy experts outline steps needed to tackle the problem
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new report on plastic pollution in the world's oceans doesn't mince words, calling the current state of affairs a "global mismanagement" of plastic waste.
Singling out plastic litter as one of the most significant problems facing marine environments, the policy brief from UCLA researchers documents the devastating effects of plastic…
Here’s the release from the American Water Works Association:
A new AWWA report updates estimated costs of an anticipated perchlorate standard being developed by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The new cost-impact assessment updates a 2009 review by including additional treatment strategies and accounting for regulatory limits already in place in California and Massachusetts.
In addition to ion exchange, this assessment considers also costs associated with blending, source abandonment and development of new sources. In all, the estimated national compliance costs for a perchlorate maximum contaminant level ranging from 2 to 24 ppb is smaller than estimated compliance costs for other drinking water regulations.
More water pollution coverage here.
From the Colorado Springs Business Journal (Rebecca Tonn):
Earlier this year, the Regional Storm Water Task Force presented details of the area’s stormwater mitigation needs.
On Oct. 9, engineering firm CH2M Hill released its comprehensive City of Colorado Springs Stormwater Needs Assessment to Mayor Steve Bach and City Council. CH2M Hill was contracted by the city to give a third-party overview on the scope and depth of the task force’s stormwater assessment. The city released the report Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The full report can be viewed online at the city’s website.
More stormwater coverage here.