(May 1) – A bill that will require groundwater monitoring in the Greater Wattenberg Area passed the House today by a vote of 34 to 29.
In January, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission adopted a rule requiring baseline and post-completion groundwater monitoring for Colorado oil and gas operators, but exempted the Greater Wattenberg Area. This is a region that is experiencing a high level of development activity and home to at least 35 percent of all active wells in the state.
HB13-1316, sponsored by Majority Leader Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D-Boulder) and Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton), addresses this inconsistency by requiring the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to adopt uniform groundwater sampling rules, applicable to any new oil and gas production well or any injection well subject to COGCC regulation in the Greater Wattenberg Area.
“It makes no sense that the largest producing area of oil and gas in the state is exempt from the groundwater testing rules, and it should be held to at least the same standards as the rest of the state,” Rep. Hullinghorst said. “This will help rebuild public confidence in our process, provide transparency and ensure Colorado’s water quality meets the highest standards.”
This law puts the Greater Wattenberg Area under statewide rule 609, which states the baseline sample must be collected six to 12 months prior to setting pipe for a new well. The operators are required to sample up to four water sources within a half-mile radius of the well, and are required to sample each water source three times, including post completion.
“Everyone should play by the same rules,” Rep. Salazar said. “We have to protect our environment, our children, our families and our public health.”
Also passing the House today was SB13-202, sponsored in the House by Rep. Jonathan Singer (D-Longmont), which requires a risk-based analysis for inspecting oil and gas wells. The bill passed by a vote of 38 to 26.