Pavillion residents share mixed feelings about cistern solution to contaminated wells

Jun 1, 2012

Wyoming plans to install water cisterns at the homes of residents in the Pavillion area’s natural gas field. An EPA draft report suggests contaminants in area wells are connected to hydraulic fracturing, but state officials say the cause of the contamination is unknown.

Mike Purcell of the Wyoming Water Development Program says the state Legislature has approved installing water tanks at the homes of residents in the affected area, free of charge. Participating residents could pay about 165 dollars per month for water delivery, plus the cost of water from Pavillion’s source. Residents would be on their own to maintain the quality of their cisterns.

The plan is a relief for resident and restaurant owner Ginny Warren. At a Thursday meeting, she said the water in Pavillion got a bad wrap when news of contamination in gas field wells spread, and visitors stopped coming to her restaurant for a time.

“Now we’re getting some good PR, we’re solving the problem, and maybe people will start thinking about Pavillion in a positive way,” Warren said.

But the plan doesn’t work for Louis Meeks, an area resident who says his well water is too contaminated to water his garden or cattle, but the cistern would only hold enough water for a few weeks of household use.

“Everybody, I think, should work with the EPA right now, get this settled and see who’s doing it,” Meeks said. “Because the landowners out here is not the ones should be paying for this water. I think what they’re trying to do is put a Band-Aid on something that needs major surgery.

Meeks currently drinks bottled water provided by En Cana Natural Gas every few weeks. It’s unclear whether the company will continue to provide water to residents when the cistern program goes into effect.