Public soon able to track areas water quality |

Public soon able to track areas water quality

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado Water quality sampling data from energy companies and other sources in the Southern Piceance Basin which covers most of Garfield County and parts of Mesa County will soon be compiled into a publicly accessible database. It is expected to be ready by the middle of next year.The web-accessible common data repository will provide area residents, researchers, consultants and energy producers with the latest water-quality sampling data. It will be built and administered by the United States Geological Survey (USGS), according to a statement from the USGS and the West Divide Conservancy District.The new database got a big boost recently after the West Divide Water Conservancy District received a $300,000 Mineral Impact Fund grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. The grant will cover about half of the projects total cost of $604,000. Contributions from area local governments, energy companies, the USGS and area water conservation districts will match the grant. Energy companies and others have, in large part, individually developed and operated water-resource monitoring programs to meet permitting and other needs, said Kirby Wynn, studies chief for the USGS in Grand Junction, in the prepared statement. While useful at the local or lease specific-scale, independent monitoring approaches can yield fragmented, incomplete and largely inaccessible data sets, which are poorly understood on a regional scale.Instead, the new database will compile data from varied sources into a single, understandable format that will, according to the statement, provide an invaluable contribution to the planning, oversight, conservation and management of water resources relative to energy development.Doug Hock, a spokesman for EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), said the effort to build the new database started about a year and a half ago with involvement from energy companies like EnCana and Williams Production RMT and local governments.It was really an attempt to better address water quality concerns in the Piceance Basin, said Hock, adding the company has chipped $20,000 into the project. We think it is in everyones best interests to have a reliable, uniform database in assessing water quality and quantity.Hock said the building of the database was a good step because there are troves of data generated by energy producers, but that they havent been gathered into a uniform format. He said the information collected will give area residents and others an opportunity to understand and have a good handle on the water quality from their operations.We realize there is a concern about impacts to water from industry activity, Hock said. A database like this is an important tool in understanding changes in water quality and quantity over time. It is going to be a great tool for everyone.Others contributing to the project include: West Divide Water Conservancy District, the Colorado River Conservation District, Garfield County, Delta County, the USGS and the towns of Grand Junction, Silt, Carbondale and Parachute. EnCana, Williams, Chevron, Shell Exploration and Production, Genesis Energy and Berry Petroleum also contributed to the database.Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117pyates@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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