Clifton Water keeping an eye on Parachute Creek contamination

The Clifton Water District said Tuesday it has been monitoring the benzene contamination in Parachute Creek, but tests of the Colorado River continue to show no evidence of the carcinogen.

A leak of natural gas liquids leaving the Williams gas processing plant has resulted in small amounts of benzene reaching the creek. However, samples farther down the creek show no sign of the substance, which readily dissipates in moving water.

Clifton Water said in a news release that it doesn’t anticipate benzene reaching the river because of its volatility.

The creek “is a very small tributary to the Colorado River, which is the water supply for the Clifton Water District,” the utility added.

It said it “has been proactively monitoring the Colorado River in multiple locations for 25 volatile organic compounds, including benzene. But its certified lab has found no VOCs in any of the samples.

The district has routinely tested the river for VOCs since 1986 and will continue doing so after the leak situation is resolved, it noted. It also has been installing advanced water treatment technology to better address sediment and other issues involving the river water.

Last week, benzene in Parachute Creek barely exceeded the state drinking water maximum of 5 parts per billion. However, the creek isn’t designated as a drinking water source by Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission, and instead a 5,300-ppb standard applies to protect aquatic life.

Williams reports that benzene readings at the highest point of contamination in the creek from Saturday through Monday were all above 4 but below 5 ppb, with Monday’s level at 4.7 ppb.


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