Garfield County commissioners OK Barrett water storage facility south of Silt |

Garfield County commissioners OK Barrett water storage facility south of Silt

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” What was a serene country setting when Michael and Pat Smith moved to Chipperfield Lane south of Silt seven years ago has turned into “ground zero” for the natural gas industry, the couple contends.

“This is what my world, our neighborhood, has been turned into,” said Michael Smith, pointing to a picture of several large green tanks on the Bill Barrett Co. property. The image was part of a presentation for a new produced water storage holding and treatment tank facility that was approved by Garfield County commissioners Monday.

“I don’t consider myself to be in an agricultural area anymore, it’s totally industrial now,” he said.

Smith noted that most of the changes to the area came after Barrett purchased the nearly 300 acres adjacent to him and a handful of other nearby residents on the dead-end lane.

Other neighbors expressed similar concerns, while others voiced support for the storage facility, saying it’s a more appropriate location than others that would have to be leased by the company.

Barrett earned unanimous approval from county commissioners Monday to use 10 acres of its larger 297-acre industrial site to erect up to 64, 25-foot-tall storage tanks.

The tanks will be used to store and treat approximately 1.8 million gallons of produced water from Barrett’s nearby natural gas wells. After treatment, the water will be reused in Barrett’s drilling operations.

The tank system is actually designed to cut down on some of the traffic, wildlife and other environmental impacts associated with the current open water pond storage system that’s located on the site, according to Scot Donato, environmental health and safety manager for Barrett.

Instead of trucking the water from the well sites to the storage facility, most of the water will be gathered using existing pipelines, he said.

Some trucking will still be necessary, Donato said, averaging about 17 trucks per day making round trips into and out of the facility.

The new tank system will also replace the open water pond system, which poses a threat to wildlife and has other issues such as unpleasant odors associated with it, Donato said.

County commissioners unanimously approved the application with several conditions related to traffic, road impact mitigation and environmental concerns.

“As you’re very aware, I have a difficult time seeing some of these areas become more industrial,” said Commissioner Tresi Houpt. “These large, long-term facilities will create traffic impacts that will last the duration (of the gas well operations).”

However, the need for better water storage facilities associated with the gas industry is a major issue, she said.

“There is a real problem with dumping illegally in this county,” Houpt said. “We do need to look at this in a broader sense.”

Other neighborhood concerns related to the potential for wildfire.

“Storage tanks for this liquid are extremely flammable,” wrote one area resident, Lisa Bracken, in a letter to the commissioners. “Human error occurring from fluid transfer, as well as lightning strikes, can result in explosion and fire.”

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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