EnCana pipeline runs into trouble crossing private land

Lynn Burton
Post Independent Staff

At natural gas meetings this week in Garfield County, one of the most contentious issues was EnCana’s possible plans to dig up miles of private land to run a water pipeline from Divide Creek to Hunter Mesa.

Ranchers and other property owners south of Silt didn’t think much of the idea, and wondered why the 12-inch line couldn’t be placed along county road rights of way instead.

After this week’s public meetings, EnCana officials said they will consider an alternate route for the pipeline before construction begins.

“If there is a win-win situation, we’re interested,” said EnCana Oil and Gas spokeswoman Sherry Long.

EnCana plans to drill 250 natural gas wells in the Mamm Creek area between Rifle and Silt this year, and about 10 percent of those are planned for the Divide Creek area south of Silt. Long said the Divide Creek area produces more water during drilling than the rest of the Mamm Creek field, so the company is building a treatment plant for the water about five miles west of Divide Creek, on Hunter Mesa.

EnCana could transport the water by truck or through a pipeline, Long said.

“We’d like to eliminate truck traffic for this purpose, to help keep the number of trucks off the road,” Long said.

Heavy truck traffic from the gas industry has been a frequent complaint from rural residents from Silt to Parachute.

Long said EnCana penciled in a pipeline route along an existing pipeline, which goes in a straight line from Divide Creek to Hunter Mesa. “That’s what has people all upset,” Long said. “But we’re still negotiating with landowners, so that it curves and makes all kinds of jogs.”

Some of those jogs could follow county road rights of way, keeping the pipeline off private property in many locations.

Garfield County Oil and Gas auditor Doug Dennison said he will meet with county staffers next week to discuss how the rights of way might be used. There are a lot of details to work out, he said.

For example, Garfield County regulations would probably require EnCana to get a special use permit to use road rights of way. That process would include public hearings, and could delay EnCana’s construction schedule.

In any case, Dennison expects the county and EnCana to huddle on the pipeline project soon.

Dennison said running a pipeline along a county road isn’t unheard of. “I’ve talked to a number of people in the industry, and who work for counties, who say it’s commonly done. I don’t think this is out of the question.”

Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. 534

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