Water Protection In Chugwater
The Niobrara Shale play is coming to the Chugwater area in a big way. A meeting to discuss the potential impact on water quality happened Wednesday night. 60 directional rigs are expected in the vicinity of Chugwater by the end of the year. Hydraulic fracturing will be a part of the oil shale extraction process.
The meeting with Wyoming Source Water Protection offered the 50 or so area residence in attendance preliminary information on what they might expect as drilling activity picks up.
Bill Teeter is an area rancher.
“I feel like with this oil play that’s going on right now in this part of the state, that it's important to have as much knowledge as possible.”
At the meeting attendees heard basic background geology, the how-tos of getting a baseline water quality test, along with legal tips from Cheyenne Attorney Matt Kaufman,
“Whatever data you’ve got on your wells; save it, keep it, get more of it. Any information on quality or quantity from any of your wells or water sources is absolutely invaluable if a dispute arises down the road.”
Missing from the mix on Wednesday night was an industry representative. Tom Doll, from the Oil and Gas Commission, was scheduled to speak, but did not make an appearance.
A print out from the Department of Environmental Quality reminded that hydraulic fracturing has been part of gas extraction for decades, but acknowledged that its relatively new to shale formations.
Uncertainty is the driver behind the call to get third party baseline water quality tests.
Debbie Horton lives on the outskirts of Chugwater. She says she has already started the testing process.
“We had the test done already and now we’re going to have the chemical test done next week. It seems real strange to me that it's costing about a thousand dollars to protect yourself from the oil and gas industry. That just seems wrong.”
Landowners are advised to contact the DEQ with questions about drilling activities and to report problems.