County gives OK to energy driller’s evaporation pit |

County gives OK to energy driller’s evaporation pit

Lynn BurtonStaff Writer

The Garfield County commissioners unanimously approved three water evaporation pits for EnCana Oil and Gas Monday, but with conditions that include protection for waterfowl that might be attracted to the site.The only opposition to the pits came from Grand Valley Citizens Alliance member Peggy Rawlins of Parachute. She asked the commissioners to deny EnCana’s special use permit application because natural gas drilling uses water, which she said is a “precious” commodity in the high desert west.”This only encourages more drilling,” Rawlins said.The three evaporation pits and nine holding tanks are planned to be constructed on an eight-acre site between Rifle and Silt off County Road 319, south of Interstate 70. Pits and holding tanks are used to promote evaporation and to treat polluted water that is produced from natural gas drilling.EnCana representative Bob Powers told the commissioners approximately 40 percent of the water will be recycled back into the drilling and production process. The rest of the water will be evaporated or trucked away.To ensure that water doesn’t seep into the ground, the pits will be lined with impermeable high-density polyethylene sheets, according to EnCana’s application.Garfield County placed 12 conditions on the special use permit.Acting on recommendations from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, EnCana is required to:-Build an eight-foot-high perimeter fence around the site, including a small game fence that will be buried six to eight inches under the ground to prevent burrowing animals from getting in.-Install escape ramps in the pits to allow wildlife that reach the water to escape the pits.-Report the death of any migratory bird to the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.The Division of Wildlife asked for EnCana to install netting over the ponds to prevent migratory birds from landing on them, but commissioners allowed the company to instead use mannequins and a network of wires spaced three to four meters apart. If the alternative mitigation doesn’t work, the county can require EnCana to install the net system. The pit site will also be surrounded on three sides by a 20-foot-tall berm.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext

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