Tag Archive for Colorado water

Which natural resource will prevail?

What do you think of when you hear the words “natural resource”?  OK, let’s narrow the field.  Do you think of water?  Or do you think of oil and gas?

Colorado Senate Bill 12-107 sponsored by Senator Morgan Carroll may just pit those two resources against each other.  That shouldn’t be the case.  In Colorado, the clear frontrunner should be water.  Most Coloradans are well aware that we have no water to spare or to waste.  Yet that precious life-sustaining resource is under siege by the oil and gas industry’s drilling and production technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Senate Bill 107 will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM.  You can register your support for the passage of the Water Rights Protection Act here or here.  Your support will indicate the value you place on Colorado’s water and on the health and safety of Coloradans.

The legislative declaration of SB 12-107 states that “energy exploration by means of hydraulic fracturing should be conducted in a responsible way that ensures the safety of Colorado residents and Colorado communities” and that “water quality and an adequate supply of water are essential to Colorado’s economy and are topics of great concern to Colorado’s cities and towns, Colorado’s agricultural economy, and the outdoor recreation and tourism for which Colorado is known across the nation and throughout the world.”

Among the Water Rights Protection Act provisions are a requirement that before drilling commences that the operator provide to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Water Resources a good-faith estimate of where and how the operator intends to acquire the water and a good-faith estimate of the amount of water that will be required for hydraulic fracturing.  After completion the operator is required to report where and how the operator actually acquired the requisite water and the amount of water actually used.

Before an operator is authorized to frack, it must collect water quality samples related to potential impacts from fracking from all active water wells located within one-half mile of the oil and gas well.

The Water Rights Protection Act also provides for water-based setbacks.  An operator will not be allowed to conduct fracking “within one-half mile of any surface water, including a pond, reservoir and other natural or artificial impoundment or stream, ditch or other artificial waterway unless the operator uses a closed-loop system.”  This provision offers some measure of protection for the waterways within Longmont and, of course, Union Reservoir.

The Act also requires that “an operator shall not insert into the ground any quantity of chemicals known to cause or reasonably anticipated to cause cancer,” such as benzene, toluene, ethybenzene, or xylene.

These and the other provisions of the Water Rights Protection Act are common sense requirements to help protect both the quantity and quality of the water we need for survival and are necessary to protect the public’s health and safety.

It only takes a minute or two to let your representatives know that you value Colorado’s water resources and that your health and safety must be protected.

Do you know who wants your water?

How can I conserve water? My answer may surprise you. Last week a city of Longmont water board member commented that he has a fiduciary responsibility to sell Longmont’s surplus water. Currently, Longmont leases out 600-acre-feet of water per year to Big Oil for fracking and drilling.

Oil fracking and drilling within our community will swell to consume thousands of acre-feet of clear water per year. Simultaneously, Longmont is encouraging its citizens to reduce their use of treated water by 3,500-acre-feet per year.

So, if I have a leaky faucet I have two choices:

1) I can repair the faucet to reduce my consumption. This will increase Longmont’s surplus water. The surplus water from my leak will be sold for fracking. The water will be mixed with toxic chemicals to produce fracking fluid. The fracking fluid will be injected miles under the ground into the Niobrara tight sand formations. Toxic water spurts back from the well and needs to be quarantined. It is trucked hundreds of miles to disposal sites to be forced into 2-mile deep isolation wells. The mountain stream water that Longmont sold to the drilling company is irrevocably removed from the hydrological system (assuming that everything goes well). It will never again runoff the surface. It will never again soak down or evaporate up into the water cycle.

2) I can let the faucet continue to drip.

In this case my leaked water will soak down into the soil or evaporate into the atmosphere or drain to the treatment system. It is conserved within our natural environment.

So, what is the best way for me to conserve the water that is leaking out of my faucet?

Maybe I should just let it drip. Every drop counts.