Early 1900s well is water leak source

A flow of salty water in the De Beque area has been traced to an oil and gas well dating to the early 1900s, and the flow has been stopped.

The water, discovered in early July, also contained small amounts of benzene and xylenes. Some other petroleum constituents also were present, but none was detected in a downstream irrigation ditch.

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff say in a website report that the agency and its contractor traced the leak to a below-ground, 1-inch-diameter metal pipeline attached to a wellhead. As part of a $12,560 contract, the pipe was removed and the wellhead temporarily sealed in late July. But the agency plans this fall to permanently plug and abandon the well. A commission employee observed a slight flow of gas from the wellhead in days after the repair.

Kenneth Bohl, a local irrigation ditch manager, discovered clear water flowing from the ground July 7 in a pasture owned by Jim and Judy Lake, the report says. He estimated its flow at 20 gallons per minute. He diverted the flow of the downstream irrigation ditch into a pasture to keep it out of Roan Creek, a tributary of the Colorado River.

The report said the benzene and xylenes in the water were at levels below commission groundwater standards. That also put them below federal drinking water standards. For benzene, a carcinogen, that standard is 5 parts per billion.

Diesel-range and oil-range organics were detected at 1.2 and 0.15 parts per million, respectively.

A U.S. Geological Survey 1911 report indicates the leak is the site of the Blair well. However, the report made references to two Blair wells, one drilled in 1902 and 300 to 400 feet deep, and another for which little information was available.

Richard Bumgardner, who owns land where the water was diverted, expressed satisfaction over the commision’s work.

“They were quick to react. They did their job well on this one,” he said.

The commission in recent years has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars dealing with gas and water leaks from several De Beque wells that date to at least the 1950s.

BOULDER — Wildlife officials euthanized a second black bear near an elementary school in Boulder.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said the 590-pound bear was put down near Flatirons Elementary School on Monday morning. She says the bruin was tagged in 2008 and relocated to the border of Wyoming, but it returned to the city within months and was often seen digging through trash.

On Friday, a male bear weighing 180 to 200 pounds was seen near the school. That bear was killed because it wouldn’t head back to the foothills.

Activists give away pot to protest taxes

DENVER — Hundreds of people lined up in a Denver park to get a free marijuana cigarette as part of a protest against a plan to impose high taxes on the drug, which is now legal in Colorado for recreational use.

Littletree Oppy was one of two people handing out the cigarettes Monday at Civic Center Park. Oppy said she is protesting the proposed taxes because people who can’t afford to pay would be forced to go to the black market.

Gulf War veteran Randy Notz said he suffers traumatic brain injury and qualifies for marijuana under Colorado’s medical marijuana law. He said he showed up for a marijuana cigarette to show his support for the campaign to defeat a ballot measure that would impose high taxes.

Man suspected of drunken horseback ride


BOULDER — Police arrested a man suspected of going on a drunken horseback ride through the city of Boulder.

Ryan Huff, a spokesman for the University of Colorado Police Department, said witnesses saw the rider and horse occasionally wandering into traffic on Broadway near the school Monday afternoon. Police pulled the horse over, and the man was arrested on suspicion of riding under the influence after he was given a sobriety test.

Police said the man, whose name has not been released, had a small dog in his backpack and beer in one of his saddlebags. The horse and the dog were impounded. No other information was released.

Woman, 22, killed on ATV near Bayfield


DURANGO — Authorities said a 22-year-old woman was killed in an all-terrain vehicle crash on a rough dirt trail near Bayfield in southwest Colorado.

La Plata County Sheriff’s spokesman Dan Bender said that Loria Hunt of Bayfield failed to return to her hunting camp after leaving on an ATV ride late Friday night. She was found dead the next morning on the side of the road with the ATV on top of her.

Bender says alcohol may have played a role in the crash.

Pregnant woman fatally shot at apartments


COLORADO SPRINGS — Authorities are investigating the shooting death of a pregnant woman at a Colorado Springs apartment complex.

Police spokeswoman Barbara Miller said officers were called to the southeastern part of the city Monday morning and found the woman with multiple gunshot wounds. The woman died at a nearby hospital, but doctors were able to deliver her baby, which was in critical condition.


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