Water-quality monitoring for drilling available online

Coloradans concerned about water quality near oil and gas drilling have a new tool to use to track that.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the state agency that regulates the industry, has added more information to an interactive online map that anyone now can access.

Through it, anyone anywhere in the state can monitor water quality from a number of wells and springs.

“There’s more and more interest in oil and gas development as it gets closer to people, and people get closer to it,” said Todd Hartman, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the commission. “People have made all kinds of statements and assertions around the impact oil and gas development does or may have on water quality, so this is another way for us to be transparent.”

The map, available on the water-sampling link at the commission’s website, http://cogcc.state.co.us, includes as much or as little information as the user wants.

It can include all active wells and directional drilling sites, and pending well permits, including information on who owns the well and what it is to be used for.

Issues have arisen in recent years over the industry’s impact on the surface environment, particularly in Weld County where huge oil and natural gas deposits have been found.

As a result, residents around many of the cities there have questioned the use of hydraulic fracturing, with some claiming that it’s tainted local water supplies.

“This is our way of saying, ‘Here’s the data we have. We’ve done thousands of samples we want to make it available,’ ” Hartman said of the water quality wells, most of which are located in that area. “It’s just information to help navigate the public through this issue.”

Hartman said the water quality sites will be updated periodically to allow residents near them to monitor to see if their water is actually becoming tainted.

Eventually, additional data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s voluntary groundwater monitoring program will be added to the map, giving residents even more information.

The map also will include all historical data the commission has collected on water quality for years, some of which were the result of investigations, remediation projects or conditions for obtaining a well permit.

Commission officials said that once all that information is added, the map will be one of the most comprehensive water quality databases in the nation.


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