Commissioners consider Battlement injection well | PostIndependent.com

Commissioners consider Battlement injection well

A crowd listens to testimony Tuesday before the Garfield County commission in Battlement Mesa concerning drilling plans inside the residential area.

After a full day of presentations and testimony, Battlement Mesa residents will have to wait until Thursday beginning at 9 a.m. to hear if an injection well will be placed next door.

The overall project, which has taken months to return to the desk of the Garfield County Board of County Commissioners, includes applications for 55 natural gas wells to be drilled at two well pads in the Battlement Mesa residential area, a small injection well at one of the pads, a natural gas pipeline associated with both pads and a temporary water storage facility.

While various aspects of the project have been called into question over the past several months, it is the small injection well within the town’s housing area that continues to receive the most attention.

In a letter sent to the county commissioners, Matt Sura, attorney for local citizen groups Battlement Concerned Citizens, Grand Valley Citizens Alliance and Western Colorado Congress, focused his comments on “the two most egregious proposals: the A Pad and A Pad injection well,” because they are both “unreasonable and unjustified.”

In September, the project won the initial OK from the Garfield County Planning Commission despite hours of testimony against the project, much of which came from Battlement Mesa residents themselves.

That testimony continued Tuesday, when anybody was invited to speak, with the majority opposed to having an injection well so close to homes.

Dozens spoke against the project Tuesday, including Garfield County teacher Michael Hindes who recently became a resident in Battlement Mesa.

“I took the morning off because of the health, safety and happiness of a community I hope to be a part of for the rest of my life,” he said, as he described feeling scared after noticing an odor in his home.

“An injection well will, at the minimum, make people feel less safe,” he added.

Several members of the three citizen organizations spoke Tuesday, including GVCA Leslie Robinson, who questioned whether Ursa would have settled on the location of Pad A within the Battlement Mesa PUD had monetary concerns not been a factor.

Ben Tipton, who worked for Glenwood Springs water for decades and is now a Battlement Mesa resident, said that he is concerned about water quality and did not think that wastewater should be injected so close to a water treatment facility.

Ursa owns mineral rights under the 5,000-person community and last year won Garfield County and state approval to drill for natural gas inside the Battlement Mesa housing area. Since then, the company has looked into placing an injection well within the town’s housing area to dispose of wastewater more efficiently than trucking it away.

While the majority of the comments were opposed to the project, several came forward in favor of Ursa’s applications, including Battlement Mesa resident Mac McCurdy, who said he’d “love to see Ursa go forward with their operations and move in and move out.”

“I support the Phase II Ursa plans for the Battlement Mesa PUD submitted to Garfield County,” Battlement Mesa resident Charles Hall wrote to the commissioners.

“The Grand Valley Fire Protection District does not see any concerns and would approve the projects for Ursa’s phase two to move forward,” wrote Rob Ferguson, Deputy Fire Chief for Grand Valley Fire Protection District.

The county commissioners will reconvene at 9 a.m. Thursday in Glenwood Springs to continue and conclude Ursa’s Phase II application hearings. The commissioners will take public testimony and ask as many questions as need be before making their decision.