USGS: Piceance Basin surface and groundwater online database meeting in Rifle Thursday

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Here’s the release the Middle Colorado River Partnership via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey will present an overview of an online databank to track changes in surface water and groundwater resources of the Piceance Basin, and provide an update of a water resources assessment for the basin.

Ken Leib and David Brown will make the presentation at a meeting of the Middle Colorado River Watershed Partnership. The meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, July 28, at the Garfield Re-2 School District Administration Building, 839 Whitewater Ave., Rifle.

The Piceance Basin covers much of northwestern Colorado. As energy development continues within the basin, the West Divide Water Conservancy District is seeking to understand the potential for changes in surface water and groundwater.

In partnership with local governments and energy companies, West Divide entered into an agreement with the USGS to create a common data repository to support the planning, conservation and management of water resources within the basin.

West Divide received a $300,000 mineral impact fund grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs for the project. Matching funds were provided by West Divide, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Garfield County, Delta County, USGS, the city of Grand Junction, the towns of Silt, Carbondale and Parachute, Encana Oil & Gas, Williams Production, Chevron, Shell Exploration & Production, Genesis Energy and Berry Petroleum.

Information gathered in the repository will be used to develop a baseline assessment of the region’s water resources. The results from the assessment will be used to develop regional monitoring strategies to fill data gaps and minimize information redundancies.

In addition to the water resources assessment effort, the USGS has launched a website to provide the public immediate access to the water quality data gathered for the basin.

“The purpose of the website is to provide all stakeholders with equal access to this important information,” said Jude Thomas, a hydrologist with USGS. “A database such as this is an important tool in understanding changes in water quality over time.”

The website is at http://rmgsc.cr. usgs.gov/cwqdr/Piceance/index.shtml.

Sam Potter, president of the West Divide District, said the USGS assessment and website will be useful tools in understanding the relationship between energy exploration and water resources.

“There is a tremendous amount of water sampling data out there from government entities, water districts and energy companies. Until now, however, it hasn’t been aggregated and presented in a format that is easily accessible to the public,” he said.

“This repository is a boon for anyone with an interest in understanding water quality in this region-landowners, energy companies, regulators, and public officials,” Potter added.

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