Morgan County: Source water quality protection plan to be final in October

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John La Porte):

Having the plan will help the district have an “in” to be informed of any new proposed land uses in areas affecting its well fields and an opportunity for input regarding such changes, said MCQWD manager Mark Kokes. Those areas include the Hay Gulch area west of Wiggins hill and the San Arroyo and Beaver Creek drainages. The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has reviewed those areas, Kokes noted. The area of most immediate concern, Kokes said, is Hay Gulch, which is the most economically feasible area for underground storage.

Front Range interests, including the city of Parker, have been buying up water in Morgan County and other northeastern Colorado counties for possible underground storage and eventual transport to their facilities via pipelines, Kokes and Brush landowner Steve Treadway said. Underground storage has a couple of advantages — storage for later use with minimal loss to evaporation and built-in pre-treatment of the water, with some impurities taken out as the water percolates through the ground, Kokes said.

Water district officials and others are concerned, however, about possible degradation of water in their well fields as other water is brought in. Water taken from the South Platte River is high in nitrates and total dissolved solids, and the impurities grow worse as one moves downstream, Kokes said. “The further downstream you get, the less desirable the water is,” he stated…

Oil and gas activity is less of a concern than degradation due to inferior water being stored near well fields, Kokes said, pointing out that oil and gas is heavily regulated. Steve Enfante, county emergency management coordinator, noted that regulations on hazardous materials spills include requirements to report and clean up any spill of more than 25 gallons of any petroleum-based product. For crude oil, reporting and cleanup requirements start at five gallons, said Ken Strauch of the Northeast Chapter of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Surprisingly, Kokes said, there is not much agricultural activity or many septic tanks near the district’s well fields.

More Coyote Gulch Morgan County coverage here.

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