Here’s the link to the website for the new documentary, Split Estate dealing with oil and gas development and production. The film chronicles the effect on groundwater and suface water quality along with diminished air quality.
If approved, the proposed rules will implement a 2008 law, House Bill 1161, which regulates in situ uranium mines across the state, requiring mining companies to return the groundwater around an in situ leach mine to the same quality it was prior to mining. Before the state can issue an in situ leach mining permit, the law requires mining companies to cite five examples of other similar mining operations that did not harm groundwater.
On Friday, the draft rules were still being revised, and changes were still being made throughout the document based on public comments the state Office of Mined Land Reclamation had received, office director David Berry said.
The rules and the law will “provide a minimum level of protection for groundwater from in situ uranium mining,” said Jeff Parsons of the Western Mining Action Project in Boulder. “Powertech’s proposal is in an inappropriate place surrounded by water wells on all sides.”
Pueblo West wants to change how its wastewater is released so that it can claim more return-flow credit for it. That would allow the district to reuse the water by collecting it again at Pueblo Dam. The water rights that supply Pueblo West come from the Western Slope, so the water can be used over and over, either physically or through exchanges of return-flow credits. Right now, Pueblo West releases treated water from its sewage-treatment plant through Pesthouse Gulch and Wildhorse Creek to the Arkansas River. That journey uses up a lot of the return-flow water by evaporation and feeding plants that grow along the gulches. Pueblo West gets return-flow credit for only 31 percent of the water that leaves the wastewater plant, Harrison said. If Pueblo West can pipe that water four miles west and release it down Golf Course Wash to Pueblo Reservoir, it can claim return-flow credit for as much as 98 percent of the water. Water rights are getting scarce in the Arkansas Valley, and Harrison said it may not be possible to buy the 3,400 acre-feet of water the “Pumpback Project” is expected to save the district. It’s enough water to supply thousands of new homes, he said.
The basin’s projected water demand is expected to rise from 19,900 acre-feet in 2008 to between 28,450 and 34,000 by 2050…
The [draft state report on future statewide water needs] calculates that population would grow in the basin from 49,000 now to 88,000 in 2050, based on formulas used by the Colorado State Demography Office. The draft said the Rio Grande basin may see increased demand from industry for water in the future because of oil and gas and solar energy development, although it did not quantify the demand as it did for other industries in other parts of the state. Mike Gibson, the roundtable’s chairman, said the demands of solar power on the valley’s water supply would be minimal compared with agriculture. He cited a proposal from Tessera Solar, which is one of a number under review by Xcel Energy, that would consume 10 acre-feet per year to run a 200 megawatt concentrated solar plant near Moffat. He noted that a 120-acre field of potatoes would consume 164 acre-feet annually while a similarly sized field of alfalfa that sees two cuttings would consume 310 acre-feet in a year.