Barrett Corp. water treatment operation shut down by county
An attempt to treat and recycle excess water from drilling operations at Bill Barrett Corp. between Silt and Rifle was foiled by the Garfield County Commissioners Monday. The commissioners ruled the company violated county zoning codes by not obtaining a special use permit for a water treatment operation on a well pad near Mamm Creek and the county airport.Barrett received a variance for the pit and treatment tanks from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last week but that was rescinded within 12 hours when the commission learned the company did not have a county permit, said Scott Donato.The move comes after Barrett experienced problems with a buildup of condensates – petroleum byproducts – at several of its wells south of Silt near Chipperfield Lane. During drilling operations Barrett discovered an odd pocket of oil with natural waxes that hardened at temperatures below 70 degrees. In response to neighborhood complaints about odors from the pits, Barrett obtained permits from the state Air Quality Control Division to burn off the oil residue.Just before Christmas Barrett burned off several of the pits in an effort to reduce the odor from the condensate, but they curtailed the burning after public outcry over lingering smoke and odors. Barrett had received three notices of alleged violation from the COGCC in connection with the buildup of condensates in the pits.Donato told the commissioners Monday the condensates had been removed from the pits. “We haven’t had any complaints from the homeowners,” he said. “The violations have been remediated.”Barrett wanted to further treat the water from those pits and other wells and trucked it to the water treatment facility on Mamm Creek, where it also plans to drill four new wells.”We try to reuse and recycle it,” Donato said.Barrett now also uses three-phase separators at all its wells. Inside enclosed tanks fluids resulting from the fracturing process, including gas, oil and water, are separated at high pressure, Donato said, then the water is released into the pit.The separator system should take care of any future problems with condensate odors, Donato said.Since both the county and COGCC have effectively shut down its water treatment system, Barrett will now have to move the treatment equipment from pad to pad, Donato said. Over the long term Barrett will look for a permanent place for the treatment facility.County Commissioners Larry McCown and Trési Houpt both said they supported Barrett’s efforts to treat and recycle its water. However, McCown said he couldn’t agree to waiving county zoning regulations. He said the company must go through the full special use permit planning process which at the least would take 90 days.”That doesn’t help you with your excess water,” he said. County regulations govern hauling water to the pit from other wells besides those located on the well pad where the treatment equipment is located, said county planning director Mark Bean.Barrett may apply for a special use permit for a water treatment facility in the future, Donato said.
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