Company, state monitoring spill of water used in gas drilling operation
Williams and state officials are sampling below a spill of water used in drilling upstream from Parachute and Battlement Mesa that occurred Tuesday on federal land below the Roan Plateau.
The spill of about 160 barrels of treated water from a drill pad in Cottonwood Gulch occurred about 2 a.m., Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar said.
The water was being pumped into a tank for reuse, but escaped through a valve that apparently was left open by a contractor’s error, Alvillar said.
A small amount of the water, estimated at less than 10 barrels, entered Cottonwood Gulch, which is beginning its spring runoff, she said.
“Whatever made it to Cottonwood Gulch made it to the river,” about a mile downstream from the area of the spill, Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd said.
Cottonwood Gulch enters the Colorado River about four miles upstream from Parachute.
Officials are testing water in the gulch and river, Alvillar said.
The water that escaped the tank, though it had been treated, contained saline water and “a minute, and I underline minute, amount of additives used in the (hydraulic fracturing) process,” Alvillar said.
Domestic water in Parachute is unaffected because the town relies on spring water for most of the year, taking water from the Colorado only during the summer, Parachute Town Manager Bob Knight said.
Williams summoned vacuum trucks to collect what it could from the surface and built three check dams to prevent any more water from reaching the creek should a storm cause additional runoff toward the creek, Alvillar said.
The BLM was notified of the spill within 24 hours, and inspectors found the company was following procedures, Boyd said.
The BLM is awaiting testing of the affected soils, including well-pad soils, before deciding whether Williams will have to dig up any soils deemed contaminated.
Those tests are due back about the middle of next week, Boyd said.