Chevron is evaluating a new method of hydraulic fracturing that uses liquid petroleum gas as a substitute for water

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I wonder if they can detonate the LPG? Here’s a report from Isabel Ordonez writing for Nasdaq. From the article:

“This fall, Chevron tested the use of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) as a fracturing agent in five natural gas wells in its Piceance Basin development in northwestern Colorado,” Chevron spokesman Russell Johnson said in an email. “We are now evaluating the test results to determine the potential usefulness of the technique.”

Chevron’s test comes at a time when hydraulic fracturing–a technique also known as “fracking”–has come under scrutiny from environmentalists and others who fear it poses a threat to public health through groundwater contamination and air pollution. It also uses massive quantities of water, a concern in many Southwestern states currently affected by drought. Finding an alternative for water in the fracking process could be key for Chevron and other oil companies that have recently acquired large land positions in shale formations across the U.S. and Canada.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

NIDIS Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment Summary of the Upper Colorado River Basin

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Here are last week’s presentations from the Colorado Climate Center. Click on the thumbnail graphic to the right for the precipitation summary.

Dennis Gelvin retires from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Linn Brooks promoted to General Manager

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Here’s the release about Dennis Gelvin’s retirement.

From email from the district (Diane Johnson):

The Eagle River Water & Sanitation District board promoted Linn Brooks to General Manager at their November 17 meeting. Brooks takes over immediately from 18-year GM, Dennis Gelvin, who is retiring.

Board chairman Rick Sackbauer noted Brooks’ readiness for the position, in part due to Gelvin’s succession planning efforts. Brooks, a 12-year employee, has been the assistant general manager for four years.

Brooks has worked closely with local governments on water and wastewater matters. “I’ve learned a lot about water management from Linn. She is a professional,” said Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney, who also serves on the board of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “I can’t imagine a better leader for the district for the future.”

Originally hired as the Staff Engineer, Brooks developed a proactive approach to upgrade and replace most of the water and sewer mains in Vail Village during Vail’s redevelopment and streetscape improvements. Later, as Technical Services Director, she initiated a comprehensive upgrade to the District’s information technology services. Once she became AGM, water and wastewater operations also came under her purview.

“We will all benefit not only from her substantial expertise, but the institutional knowledge she brings to her new position,” said Avon Town Manager Larry Brooks (no relation). “Linn’s appointment as General Manager is an excellent fit for the ERWSD. We are fortunate to have someone of her caliber in this position.”

Brooks has successfully navigated local and federal permitting processes to develop water system infrastructure and has been instrumental in raising awareness of non-point source pollution and its effects on the aquatic environment in Gore Creek and Eagle River. She brings stakeholders together, looking beyond just District interests, to address mutual issues such as water quality and wilderness legislation.

Brooks looks forward to sustained challenges associated with a changing regulatory environment and providing high quality water and wastewater services during difficult economic conditions.

“I’m grateful to the board for its confidence in me,” said Brooks, “Dennis Gelvin leaves an organization that is a model for how good government should work. We have a great team at the District that is positioned to continue that legacy.”

More coverage from the Vail Daily:

Brooks, a 12-year employee, has been the assistant general manager for four years.

Brooks has worked closely with local governments on water and wastewater matters.

“I’ve learned a lot about water management from Linn. She is a professional,” said Eagle County Commissioner Jon Stavney, who also serves on the board of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “I can’t imagine a better leader for the district for the future.”

More Eagle River watershed coverage here and here.

Colorado-Big Thompson Project update: Winter refill for Carter Lake should start up in December

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From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb) that was buried in my inbox since last Friday:

As we move into the weekend, we have several operational changes taking place across the Colorado-Big Thompson Project on the east slope.

Visitors to and residents of Estes Park will likely notice that Marys Lake and Lake Estes are gradually going down in water elevation. By the end of next week, Marys Lake will be dropped down for maintenance and inspections. It is anticipated that its water level will begin to rise again by mid-to-late December.

At Lake Estes, the drop in water level is to accommodate some annual maintenance and inspection at Olympus Dam. The reservoir is expected to drop about 12 vertical feet by Monday morning, November 21. It will begin to rise again by late Monday afternoon.

As the water level at Lake Estes drops, the release from Olympus Dam to the Big Thompson River through the canyon will also slowly decline. Today, it dropped approximately 30 cfs from 300 to about 270 cfs. Releases will continue to drop through the weekend and into the top of next week. By Monday night, November 21, releases to the Big Thompson River should be back to normal flows for this time of year, which are approximately 25 cfs.

Diversion from Olympus Dam to the southern power arm of the C-BT is currently off-line while other project maintenance is underway. The contractor continues to work on the replacement of the open-faced Pole Hill Canal, installing closed box culverts. This work is split into two phases, the first of which is being completed this fall and is scheduled to wrap up in mid-December. Attached you will find a photo of the work currently underway along the Pole Hill Canal.

With Pole Hill off-line, no water has been flowing into Pinewood Reservoir, which has maintained a high water elevation through October and well into November. This will change starting Monday, November 21. On Monday, we will begin to draw Pinewood’s water elevation down to accommodate a maintenance project on the Bald Mountain Pressure Tunnel, which carries water from the reservoir to the Flatiron Penstocks. Residents of and visitors to Pinewood will see the water elevation decline through the week, hitting a low of about 6550 by the the following Monday, November 28. It will remain at the low level well into December, until the work on the Pressure Tunnel is complete. We have been in close contact with the Newell-Warnock Water Association at Pinewood so they are aware of these changes to the maintenance schedule.

We are anticipating that the southern power arm of the C-BT will start to “water up” by mid-to-late December.

Meanwhile, water elevations at Horsetooth are still climbing slightly, but will level off as these changes across the project go into effect.

Water levels at Carter Lake are likely to continue dropping, as is typical for this time of year. We anticipate the start of refill for Carter to begin in mid-to-late December, as normal.

From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb, November 16):

In order to accommodate on-going maintenance at the Shoshone plant, we will reduce our releases from Green Mountain Dam to the Lower Blue River from 300 to 200 cfs. The reduction will be made in two steps of 50 cfs each. This afternoon, we dropped releases to around 250 cfs. Tomorrow morning around 8 a.m. we’ll drop releases to about 200 cfs. We will keep 200 cfs in the Lower Blue through Thanksgiving.

More Colorado-Big Thompson Project coverage here.

Hydraulic fracturing: ‘All it is, is really a fracture of the bedrock below the surface.” — Stan Dempsey, Jr. with the Colorado Petroleum Association

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From 9News.com (Kyle Cabodi):

On Monday night, Commerce City residents met to talk about a new fracking project near the intersection of 104th Street and Tower Road. Their biggest concerns are over water contamination and exposure to chemicals used in the extraction process. Petroleum experts say the process has a proven safety record, and say the key to understanding fracking is knowing exactly how it works.

Professor Will Fleckenstein with the Colorado School of Mines says most fracking operations take place between 5,000 and 10,000 feet below ground. That can be the equivalent of more than eight Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. In all cases, the fracking operation takes place below the water-saturated aquifer. “All it is, is really a fracture of the bedrock below the surface,” Stan Dempsey, Jr. with the Colorado Petroleum Association said…

“You’ve got multiple defenses of contamination of surface aquifers,” Fleckenstein said. He says every fracking well is lined with thick pipe and cement, which makes it virtually impossible for the chemicals to ever come into contact with underground water. “From Pennsylvania to New Mexico to Colorado and Texas – all of them have not found a single instance of contamination of aquifers,” Fleckenstein said [ed. maybe not]…

“We are all environmentalists and we want to make sure Colorado’s land and water are safe,” Dempsey said. Currently, petroleum companies are not legally required to reveal the mixture of chemicals they use in fracking. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission plans to vote on a measure in December that would make that mandatory.

More coverage from Sara Castellanos writing for the Aurora Sentinel. From the article:

Anadarko applied in August to drill up to 36 wells in a 30-square-mile patch of land near Aurora’s eastern edge. The area stretches from Gun Club Road east to Watkins Road and from East Yale Avenue north to East Colfax Avenue. Anadarko also hopes to drill as many as 24 other wells around rural Arapahoe County.

The mood in the room at Arapahoe County Centre Point Plaza, where more than 50 people gathered, was much calmer than previous meetings on the topic of fracking like the one held last month at the Community College of Aurora.
Still, opponents of fracking said they’re concerned the technique will pollute drinking water, cause property values to decrease, and contaminate the environment. And they said Arapahoe County officials should be concerned about those things as well.

“I just don’t understand how they’re going to protect our water,” said Sandy Toland, who lives in southeast Aurora.
Aurora Water officials have said in previous fracking meetings that they will take all measures necessary to ensure that drinking water is safe. Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said at a meeting last month that fracking occurs between 6,000 and 8,000 feet below the earth’s surface, whereas drinking water aquifers are typically less than 1,000 feet deep…

“I think it’s wonderful so many people care,” said Nancy Jackson, Arapahoe County Commissioner. “There’s really so much uncertainty and so much nervousness around this that I think it’s really important that we have these kind of educational opportunities for folks.” She said the county will be sifting through residents’ suggestions before the county approves the Oil and Gas Regulations proposal after the final public hearing on Dec. 13.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

Southern Delivery System update: Construction for the new stainless steel liner for the Pueblo Dam north outlet works starts up

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We have poured more than 2,500 cubic yards of concrete to form the foundation for the new connection,” said Janet Rummel, spokeswoman for Colorado Springs Utilities. The $6 million project is being done by ASI Constructors of Pueblo West and is on target to be completed in mid-2012…

One line from the North Outlet Works will feed the Juniper Pump Station, which will be built nearby. The other will feed the Arkansas River. There is also the potential to interconnect the new outlet with the existing South Outlet Works, which serves Pueblo, Pueblo West and the Fountain Valley Authority. It would also serve the future Arkansas Valley Conduit, which is now under environmental review.

Trenching has begun in Pueblo West for the 66-inch-diameter pipeline that will be installed as part of the project.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.