water

A report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils says the oil and gas industry is using at least seven billion gallons of water per year in just four states: Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. The report says after industry is done with that water, it turns into a hazardous material, and in some cases cannot be reused for other purposes.

Powder River Basin Resource Council member Robert LeResche says he’s also worried about states’ lack of regulations regarding the quantity of water used.

‘Gasland 2’, a sequel to the 2010 documentary ‘Gasland,’ premiers this weekend in New York City. The original film focused on land owners alleging that oil and gas development on their land contaminated their water sources. The movie is thought to have brought the terms ‘fracking’ into the mainstream. The films’ director, Josh Fox, says the sequel investigates how government and regulatory agencies have dealt with what affected land owners say is contamination by industry.

Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says he’s optimistic that community members will be able to come up with voluntary measures to manage water resources in the Horse Creek Basin in southeastern Wyoming.

Tyrrell says there appears to be a water shortage, and he says it’s complicated figuring out how much water everyone is entitled to, because groundwater and surface water are connected in the area.

Tyrrell hosted a public hearing in LaGrange on Friday to gather input from water users about what to do, and he says the meeting was productive.

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana Oil and Gas before signing off on the company’s request for an aquifer exemption. Encana wants to pump waste water into the Madison Aquifer from their oil and gas field in the Moneta Divide. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already approved the request, but the EPA says the modeling of the plume that Encana did is too broad and the agency wants more information about why, according to Encana, the relatively clean water can’t be used for other purposes .

Tristan Ahtone

Native American tribes need to make sure they are protecting their natural resources. Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Wes Martel, from the Wind River Indian Reservation, spoke during a University of Wyoming American Indian Studies program this week. Martel said tribes need to be more careful about the kinds of contracts they enter into for energy development. He added that water is the new gold but very few tribes are taking real steps to secure this resource.  

The state engineer’s office says in parts of Laramie and Goshen Counties, demand for water appears to exceed supply.

State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says groundwater and surface water are connected in that area, so people who draw down the water in their wells are affecting water in streams, which means less water flows into the Hawk Spring Reservoir. He says there hasn’t been enough water to go around for quite some time.

A new report by the Environmental Protection Agency shows that streams in Wyoming are in better condition than the national average. The study collected about two thousand samples from streams nationwide to determine the quality of the water.  Denise Keehner is Director of the EPA’s  Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds.  She says Wyoming is divided into four eco-regions – in those eco-regions water quality is poor in 26% to 43% of streams, while the national average is 55%.

The state engineer says Laramie County residents could see new restrictions on groundwater use in the future.

Much of the county gets its water from the Ogallala Aquifer, which is being depleted faster than it can recharge. The state engineer’s office is launching a study to figure out what would happen to the aquifer if current water use continues.

State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says it’s important to come up with a management plan before the water runs out.

Pavillion Working Group Has New Issue To Address

Oct 11, 2012

A working group looking into groundwater contamination near Pavillion is still debating findings of contamination of water wells near the town. 

State officials are still studying the results of a U.S.  Geological Survey test and some possible conflicting information with an Environmental Protection Agency study. 

USGS

The U-S Geological Survey released a study examining how coalbed natural gas production affects water quality in nearby streams and rivers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Melanie Clark, the author of the report.

HOST: In December, the Environmental Protection Agency released a draft report tentatively linking water contamination in the town of Pavillion to hydraulic fracturing activities in the area. The release of the draft report caused a spectacle, and state, federal and tribal agencies have now caught in a bureaucratic holding pattern, while residents affected by contaminated water wait in a form of investigative limbo. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tristan Ahtone attended a recent Pavillion Work Group meeting to get updates on the investigation.

The National Science Foundation announced today (Friday) that the University of Wyoming will receive a 20-million-dollar grant to study water resources in the state.  It’s the largest grant ever received by the University.   U-W Researcher Steve Holbrook says they hope to answer a number of water related questions and help future water managers.

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.
 

As testing continues on whether fracking contaminated groundwater in the Pavillion area, Governor Matt Mead and state officials will host a meeting next week on a new way to get fresh water to citizens. 

Mead says they are considering a cistern system where each resident would have a water tank to hold their water supply.  Water for the tanks would be trucked from Riverton or Lander.  One issue is how to pay for it.  Governor Mead says the Environmental Protection Agency is not set up to help pay for such a project and getting the gas company Encana to pay is a bit tricky.

Concerns about possible water shortages have lead the Riverton City Council to adopt a drought plan and implement mild restrictions. Under the plan’s level green, there are no restrictions. The current yellow level asks residents to conserve water voluntarily. Voluntary water conservation measures include fixing leaks and avoiding watering lawns during the hottest parts of the day.

Tribal officials on the Wind River Reservation continue to seek answers after the Department of Energy announced that uranium was found in some residents' tap water. DOE officials announced last week that data collected in the fall indicated that four households near a former uranium waste site had levels of uranium nearly twice the legal limit. Dean Goggles is executive Director for the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission. He says tribal members are currently faced with more questions than answers.

Water specialists at the Natural Resources Conservation Service say that snowpack throughout the state is well below what’s average at this time of year. The northwest corner of the state is closest to what’s considered normal, but the state-wide average is 54 percent of that.

Water specialist for the NRCS, Lee Hackleman, says this could mean drought. 

At a meeting with Pavillion residents this morning, Governor Mead said he wants to continue providing people with safe water.

Pavillion is at the center of an EPA investigation about whether hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the town’s drinking water supply. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease recommended that residents refrain from drinking the water AND shower with their windows open, and as a result, area oil and gas producer EnCana, and the state of Wyoming, are now paying to have bottled water delivered to residents.

 The National Science Foundation has awarded Wyoming and Utah researchers six million dollars to study how Climate change and other factors will affect water storage and availability in the inter-mountain west.  University of Wyoming Civil Engineering Professor Fred Ogden says the researchers will develop high-performance computer models to understand complex water issues facing western states.                            .

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