Drilling could hurt Norwood water supply, official says

The town of Norwood is worried about water contamination if the Bureau of Land Management next month sells gas drilling leases that are near the town’s water supply.

Mike Rozycki, San Miguel County planner, said drilling in those areas could hurt the San Miguel River, which flows from Telluride to Norwood.

Norwood town manager Patti Grafmyer said the 40-acre tract on Wright’s Mesa is within a mile of the town’s water headgate and reservoir. “They’re both open air sources, and any dirt or activity up there that put extra organics in our water could cause more costly tests,” she said.

Rozycki said the county is working with the BLM office in Montrose to look at six other tracts in the county before the Nov. 13 lease sale.

In 2006, the BLM agreed to give deferment status to some of the tracts in the San Miguel River Canyon, and some of this year’s tracts are in the same sensitive areas, Rozycki said.

The San Miguel County Commission thinks some of the tracts are too close to the one-quarter-mile buffer along rivers with wild and scenic status,  Rozycki said, and one tract is within the buffer.

County staff will make a recommendation to the commissioners before their Oct. 22 meeting, including concerns about tracts in Gunnison sage grouse habitat, Rozycki said. The county will try to find common ground with the BLM by Oct. 29.

Norwood’s town board and water commission are drafting objection letters to the BLM about the tract on Wright’s Mesa, Grafmyer said.


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