Colorado drilling regulators mulling new water tests
December 11, 2012
DENVER – Colorado gas-and-oil regulators are debating new rules for water quality and drilling near homes, which could determine whether state lawmakers propose stepping in to set their own rules.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is mulling a new rule to require water-quality testing before and after a well is drilled and hydraulically fractured.
The Durango Herald reported Tuesday that it will not make a final decision on water quality testing until January at the earliest ( http://bit.ly/125GLpC ).
Commissioner DeAnn Craig, a petroleum engineer, said the state’s existing rules on well construction are the best defense against groundwater contamination.
Craig said she was concerned the state was asking the gas industry to pay for water sampling that should be the responsibility of landowners or county governments. The water tests would cost $4 million to $6 million “for basically public service because we’ve established with the new rules the possibility of contamination is almost zero,” Craig said.
The commission was debating a separate rule change Tuesday about buffer zones between wells and houses. That rule would require consultation with building owners within 1,000 feet of a proposed well.
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State Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, told the newspaper that she has filed a bill to ban new wells within 2,000 feet of homes and schools, unless the local government approves. Carroll’s bill also would require water-quality tests before and after a well is drilled.
Carroll said she hoped the COGCC would pass a good set of rules this week.
“If they do not, I remain committed to working to ensure these critical issues are resolved in a way that best protects the health of our children, families and our environment,” she said in a prepared statement.