COGA drops suit on storm-water regulations |

COGA drops suit on storm-water regulations

An oil and gas industry trade association has dropped a lawsuit against the state Water Quality Control Commission. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association sought to block storm-water regulations adopted by the WQCC. COGA filed the suit in March 2005. It maintained that because of federal law, states are prohibited from mandating that it obtain storm-water permits.The new regulations took effect on June 30, and cover gas well sites of one to five acres that are under construction. Natural-gas operators disturbing more than one acre of ground are now required to file a storm-water management plan with the Water Quality Control Division and obtain a discharge permit. Those regulations do not apply once well pads, roads and pipelines are built, because they’re covered by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.Storm-water permits are used to help limit runoff of sediment when earth is disturbed by construction-related activities.”We thought the Water Quality Control division … indicated a willingness to examine the details of the (permitting) program, and that means (we have) an opportunity to work with them,” said Ken Wonstolen, COGA senior vice president and general counsel. “We think we ought to explore those (details) before going to court.”Wonstolen would not “go public” with those details, he said, before discussing them with the WQCC.Local governments – including the Garfield County Commissioners – environmental groups and the Colorado River Water Conservation District, supported keeping the rules in place. “We are pleased the lawsuit has ended,” said Jim Pokrandt, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “We interpret it as acknowledgment by the oil and gas industry that regulation of storm-water discharge associated with oil and gas construction is necessary to protect water quality, and that the Water Quality and Control Commission is the appropriate entity to do it.”

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