Posted on May 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Regions where the water level has declined in the period 1980-1995 are shown in yellow and red; regions where it has increased are shown in shades of blue. Via USGS.
Is the U.S. headed for water bankruptcy?
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With many rivers in the western part of the U.S. already tapped out, the pressure on groundwater resources has been increasing, as shown by new U.S. Geological Survey research documenting accelerating depletion of aquifers around the country.
Groundwater depletion in the U.S. was so extensive between 2000 and 2008 that it accounts for 2 percent of the total observed sea level rise during that period, as the water ends up in the ocean as part of the hydrological cycle rather than remaining locked away underground.
Since 1900, the total amount of water depleted from aquifers was equal to more than twice the volume of water in Lake Erie.
Essentially, the country is frittering away its water savings faster than ever, with no idea how to replace them, or what to do when they’re gone.
Just in the eight years between 2001 and 2008, depletion of the Ogalla Aquifer amounted to 32 percent of the total depletion during the entire 20th century. The annual rate of depletion during this recent period averaged about 10.2 cubic kilometers, roughly 2 percent of the volume of water in Lake Erie. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, water | Tagged: aquifer depletion, Environment, groundwater, High Plains, Ogallala Aquifer, United States Geological Survey, water | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New rules would tighten up water testing around oil and gas wells in Colorado’s Greater Wattenberg area.
Proposed law would end exemption for busy oil and gas fields northeast of Denver
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A new measure to protect Colorado water quality from fracking impacts narrowly passed a House committee on a 6-5 vote. HB 1316 requires state regulators to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules and ends an exemption for the largest oil and gas field in Colorado in the Greater Wattenberg area.
The measure would require sampling of all groundwater sources (up to a maximum of four wells) within a half-mile of proposed oil and gas wells, as well as follow-up sampling after the wells are drilled.
State officials previously said the Greater Wattenberg Are exemption was made because the state already has a robust water quality database for that area. Requiring more testing would put an “undue burden on the industry without providing additional safety benefits,” said Ginny Brannon, assistant director for water and energy at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, in a January interview with Summit Voice.
Brannon said Weld County has a groundwater testing program that provides water well testing to any well owner requesting it, but conservation groups want more consistent statewide standards for testing. They said the new requirements are a step toward better protection of public health and the environment. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, gas drilling, oil drilling, water | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fraching, Greater Wattenberg area, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing | 3 Comments »
Posted on January 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The proliferation of oil and gas drilling in Colorado raises serious questions about water quality impacts. Photo courtesy SkyTruth.
State officials claim new rules are pioneering; conservation advocates say rule-making ignored science
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Colorado officials are touting new groundwater protection rules as a pioneering step in the regulation of of oil and gas drilling, but conservation groups say the requirements don’t do enough to protect public health and water quality.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this week approved the regulations after months of stakeholder discussions with the goal of protecting well owners and the industry. The rules require drilling companies to sample nearby water wells both before and after drilling. Only two other states have mandatory groundwater programs in place and no other state in the country requires operators to take post-drilling water samples. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, Environment, fracking, groundwater, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 7, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Setbacks, water quality monitoring needs to err on the side of caution
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Even though Colorado touts clean air and water and healthy lifestyles based on outdoor activities like skiing and hiking, the reality is is far different.
Somehow, government and energy industry spin-meisters have perpetuated a myth of a “clean” natural gas energy boom, but thanks to our almost insatiable thirst for fossil fuels, large parts of the state have been turned into industrial zones. Drill pads, power generators, pumping stations and roads fragmenting forests, sagebrush fields and even residential areas.
Methane leakage from drilling operations is contributing to global warming. Other noxious gases contribute to regional haze and smog, causing serious health problems. At this point, there’s really no telling what’s going on with our groundwater, but every time I hear government and the energy industry say, “don’t worry,” my concern grows, especially as more and more areas are opened to drilling. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, energy, Environment, fracking, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing, oil and gas drilling, water pollution | 3 Comments »
Posted on September 8, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Sole source designation could help guard against mining impacts
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — South Park residents concerned about impacts of uranium mining and other forms of energy development are seeking federal protection for their water supplies under a sole source aquifer designation from the EPA.
The designation would require more in-depth review of any proposed activities that could affect water supplies. Of special concern is uranium mining near Hartsel, as well as potential development of oil and gas resources. The designation could also result in buffers and other protective measures.
Gaining the EPA designation is a multi-step process beginning Sept. 11 with a meeting of the local environmental advisory board. Citizens will offer a petition requesting the South Park county commissioners to sponsor a formal request for the designation to regional, state and federal authorities. Get an overview of the regional sole source aquifer program at this EPA website. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, energy, Environment, public lands, water | Tagged: Colorado, Energy development, groundwater, sole source aquifer protection, South Park, South Park aquifer, uranium mining | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Las Vegas wants to suck water from distant aquifers to fuel more unsustainable growth.
State engineer approves Las Vegas plan to pump groundwater from remote basins
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — It was almost inevitable that state officials in Nevada would approve a controversial groundwater pumping scheme that will suck the water out of various aquifers, and could extinguish the surface life that depends on precious moisture in the desert.
After all, sustainable development has never been a Nevada hallmark, and Las Vegas — despite occasional propaganda campaigns suggesting otherwise — is the very antithesis of sustainability.
But this week’s decision by the Nevada State Engineer will have serious consequences for rare ecological communities that depend on groundwater, drying up springs, creeks and upland plant communities. The project is, by most measures, an environmental train wreck in the making. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Opinion, water | Tagged: groundwater, Las Vegas, Nevada, Nevada groundwater development project, Opinion | 7 Comments »
Posted on February 27, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
With oil and gas rigs sprouting across Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper downplays concerns about water contamination, while conservation groups say there is still much to be done to minimize environmental impacts.
Conservation groups challenge Gov. Hickenlooper’s claim that there has been no groundwater contamination from drilling or fracking operations since 2008
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — All things related to oil and gas drilling in Colorado seem to be complicated, and the latest flap over a public service announcement by Gov. John Hickenlooper is no exception.
In the ad, posted on the Colorado Oil & Gas Association website, Hickenlooper makes a flat-out claim that there hasn’t been any groundwater contamination associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing since 2008. You can listen to Hickenlooper’s message here.
The message touted Colorado’s new oil and gas drilling regulations which are intended to protect the environment as well as to give industry regulatory certainty. The context of the message was to advertise Colorado as open for the oil and gas business business, but the problem is that Hickenlooper’s statement is not completely accurate or truthful. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, water | Tagged: Colorado Conservation Voters, energy, Environment, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing, John Hickenlooper, water pollution | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 25, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Well water testing by the U.S. Geological Survey shows widespread groundwater pollution.
Contaminants found in one of five wells in recent USGS study
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While most people assume that well water is clean and safe, a recent study by the U.S. Geological Survey shows that one out of every five wells providing public drinking water contains at least one contaminant at levels of potential health concern.
The USGS sampled 932 public wells across the country for the study. About 105 million people — or more than one-third of the nation’s population — receive their drinking water from one of the 140,000 public water systems across the United States that rely on groundwater pumped from public wells. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: groundwater, Summit County, Summit County News, Summit Voice, USGS, water, water pollution, water quality, well water contamination | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 18, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Hydraulic fracturing has helped fuel an energy development boom, but has also been implicated in groundwater contamination. GRAPHIC COURTESY OF PROPUBLICA.
Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing suspected in groundwater contamination
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Regaining some gumption after years of politicized environmental science under the Bush administration, the EPA announced today it will launch a nationwide study of hydraulic fracturing.
The process is used in 90 percent of all natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. Essentially, energy companies pump millions of gallons water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to to break apart rock and release the gas.
In 2004, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing did not threaten water supplies, but the report was questioned because the agency didn’t do widespread water quality testing. As a result, the EPA has not been regulating the process under the Safe Water Drinking Act.
Since then, chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing have been turning up in drinking water in Wyoming and other places where there is extensive natural gas drilling.
Environmental groups have been calling for more extensive studies on the environmental impacts of the process for years.
Reacting to the EPA announcement, the American Petroleum Institute released a statement saying it expects the study “to confirm what 60 years of experience and investigation have already demonstrated: That hydraulic fracturing is a safe and well-understood technology for producing oil and natural gas.” Continue reading
Filed under: energy, Environment, gas drilling, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Environment, gas drilling, groundwater, hydraulic fracturing, water, water pollution | Leave a comment »