Reject Battlement injection well, activists urge
March 6, 2017
In a letter to the Garfield County Planning Commission, several Garfield County community groups reiterated their concerns over locating a wastewater injection well within the Battlement Mesa residential area.
"As has been stated by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, injection wells should not be located in urban mitigation areas (neighborhoods)," the Feb. 28 letter states. "Ursa [Resources] should be directed to take its proposal back to the drawing board and find a location for its injection well that is at least 1,000 feet from a home and outside the Battlement Mesa PUD."
A proposal to put an injection well in Battlement Mesa has been in the works for months. On Wednesday the Planning Commission is scheduled to finally vote on it. Ursa Resources owns the mineral rights beneath Battlement Mesa and last year the company won approval from state regulators to develop 53 natural gas wells within the boundaries of the residential zone. Injection wells, though, used to dispose of wastewater from the drilling process, are currently not permitted within Battlement Mesa. Ursa will look to change that on Wednesday.
The vote had originally been planned for the February Planning Commission meeting, but the proposal was pulled back after the planning commission staff urged rejection in large part because of the proposed injection wells' proximity to the community's water intake. At the February meeting, the Planning Commission granted a continuance so that Battlement Mesa Partners, which requested the zoning change for Ursa's natural gas operations, could alter its plan.
"Battlement Mesa Company's (and Ursa Resources') updated proposal is not an improvement over its earlier proposal," writes Matt Sura, representing the community groups. "By limiting the proposed injection site to the new 'A Pad,' Battlement Mesa Company and Ursa will be in direct violation of state law which requires wells and production facilities to be located at least 500 feet from a home."
The letter outlines several reasons why the planning commission should reject the proposal, using the Garfield County land use resolution as a point of reference. The resolution states that any land use modification must be consistent with the efficient development and preservation of the entire PUD, must not affect in a substantially adverse manner the public interest, and must not be granted solely to confer a special benefit upon any person.
The Garfield County community groups, which include Battlement Concerned Citizens, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, and Western Colorado Congress, do not believe the proposed text amendment benefits anyone except Ursa Resources and in fact see it as "adversely affect[ing] the public interest."
"Battlement Mesa Company's (Ursa's) proposal needlessly endangers local air quality within Battlement Mesa," the letter continues. "It also imposes an oil and gas waste disposal facility on a low income community."
Rather than continuing to try to get an injection well in Battlement Mesa, the letter urges that "Ursa Resources should conduct an alternative site to find a more appropriate location for an injection well outside of the Battlement Mesa PUD."