GarCo plans monitoring of Battlement Mesa drilling impacts

County ended previous CU effort on Battlement Mesa health effects

Garfield County has been given a framework for monitoring impacts of proposed natural gas drilling in Battlement Mesa, and it is working toward implementing elements of it.

The Colorado School of Public Health in December completed a design for the county of an environmental and health monitoring study related to plans by Antero Resources to drill up to 200 wells in the residential development. That follows the school’s study of the drilling’s possible health impacts, which county commissioners ended before its completion after the industry criticized draft findings and said the study was being politicized.

The school’s new work includes designs for:

Ongoing air, water and soil quality monitoring.

Characterization of air pollutants from gas development and their health impacts.

An assessment of how such pollutants disperse and affect health.

Long-term monitoring of Battlement Mesa residents for health impacts from gas development.

Long-term monitoring of communitywide effects from drilling.

“I’m not as concerned about the water and soil monitoring as I am about the air monitoring,” County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said during a meeting Wednesday.

But some Battlement Mesa residents told commissioners water monitoring is important, too, because wells are a backup to the community’s primary drinking-water supply, the Colorado River.

Commissioner John Martin said he’d like to see several air-monitoring stations in and around Battlement Mesa to help better identify sources of pollution that could be affecting the community, including from afar. Jim Rada, the county’s environmental health manager, will explore what that would cost.

The county already is in talks with entities including Colorado State University, the Environmental Protection Agency and the industry, in hopes of proceeding with a study focused on things such as what pollutants are emitted from well pads and how they disperse.

Jankovsky said as data comes in from new studies, he would like to consider having an entity other than the School of Public Health evaluate it.

“In my opinion their reputation has been injured by previous things that have gone on,” he said.

Battlement Mesa resident Mary Haygood encouraged commissioners to hold the industry to high standards when drilling starts.

Said Jankovsky, “My expectations of the industry are going to be very high when it comes to the Battlement Mesa drilling plan, (that) it would be state of the art and best practices, and I would expect to hold them to that.”


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