Email Letters: May 2, 2017
Commissioners should reject injection well plan in Battlement Mesa
Residents of Battlement Mesa appreciate the Sentinel editorial last week urging the Garfield County commissioners to reject the plan to locate an oil and gas wastewater disposal well inside our community.
We agree that injection wells do not belong in residential areas and so does the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. This is purely a land-use decision as injection wells are not about property rights and the commissioners are well within their powers to reject this plan.
The industrial development of our community is well underway now as Ursa is drilling 53 wells inside the community and continuing previous work on pads just outside our boundaries. Soon, Ursa will begin the permitting process to build 2-3 more pads and dozens of new wells and pipelines inside our community. When one looks at Battlement Mesa from I-70, the centerpiece of the vista is now a pad with giant sound walls adjacent to homes.
We know that Ursa is striving to be a good neighbor through this process but we should not lose sight of the fact that living with oil and gas development in your backyard is not a pleasant experience. Noise, lights, smells, trucks and accidents are all inevitable parts of any industrial activity and we now live with them every day. We also live day-to-day wondering if something disastrous could occur and change our community forever.
Denying an injection well in Battlement Mesa will not stop Ursa’s ability to complete their operations but it is one small piece of this giant industrial plan that does not need to happen so close to where people live. We are asking the commissioners to bear all of this in mind as we begin the next phase of large-scale oil and gas development within our beautiful residential community.
Coverage of USA Cycling National Championships was outstanding
Thanks so much for Dale Shrull’s great coverage of the USA Cycling Collegiate and Para-Cycling National Championships last weekend. Truly outstanding photos and text. You captured the essence of bicycle racing including the stories behind these inspiring athletes – both able-bodied and disabled.
Young bike racers have a choice when they graduate from high school – either join a professional development team or race at the collegiate level. Those who choose college will have a degree to fall back on and leverage with professional teams who might not be of the highest integrity. Your support for collegiate cycling will help with the effort to clean up a tarnished sport.
Drainage District’s assessment of fees sets a bad precedent
My family has lived in the Grand Valley and farmed this land for more than 50 years. I would like to voice my opinion about the Grand Valley Drainage District “fees” which have been recently assessed on the residents of this community.
Last year I received a bill from GVDD for $72. I paid the amount, though I did not agree with it. I felt that I had to comply because I did not want it to be sent to collections.
This year they increased my bill to $270.00. This seems very questionable, as nothing has changed on my property in that time. I am now 78 years old and on a very limited income. While I still have my farm, the money made from the lease payment barely covers taxes, insurance, and irrigation water expenses. As costs continue to rise all around me, my income does not. My farm drainage and tail water does not even use the ditches managed by the Drainage District that I am being charged for. In my frustration I dug out my tax records going back to 2003 through 2016 and totaled up all of the property taxes that were allotted to GVDD during that time. The total for that period was $1,033.70. The Drainage District has been able to manage on those allotted property tax dollars for all these years. As I understand it, the more homes and businesses that are built in the valley, the more taxes that are received by the Drainage District, providing more revenue to manage drainage for that growth.
Grand Valley Drainage District is assessing a “fee” in order to raise more money. I question, why have the increasing funds from a growing tax base not generated enough money to cover these needs? If there is a real need and not just poor leadership or mismanagement, then the funds should be asked for in the form of a tax and not demanded in the form of a “fee.” Hypothetically, any organization could decide that even though it could operate within its tax-funded budget, it may not want to. If they were given the authority to assess fees on landowners, they could hypothetically create whatever budget they wanted, and landowners would be forced to pay for it or be sent to collections. I am not saying that this is the case with the Drainage District, but granting this type of authority to any organization without checks and balances puts us in a precarious position by establishing a precedent for all organizations.
If the district truly can no longer accomplish the job they were organized to do because of a lack of appropriate funding, then let them spell out the justification for additional funds, call it a tax, and approach the people in a legitimate manner to gain a vote of approval. Allowing the current “fee” course of action opens the door for problems and corruption down the road in this and other similar organizations. This is a precedent we cannot afford to set.
Unsung heroes in the fight against opioid abuse spearhead National Take-Back-Day
Police, sheriffs and firefighters across Mesa County deserve our thanks and praise for a job well done. This past Saturday they and local communities again spearheaded National Take-Back Day, sponsored by the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which allows citizens to come to local law enforcement locations and dispose of expired or unused prescription drugs.
Last year’s Take-Back day broke a record, collecting 447 tons (almost 900,000 pounds) of prescription drugs. As we are all hopefully aware by now, drug abuse problems are not only about the heroin in the streets, but the medicine in our cabinets. NTB proves that government programs, when properly coordinated and executed, can provide extraordinary value to our communities.
Colorado’ efforts are coordinated through the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention (the Consortium, http://www.corxconsortium.org). The consortium is a broad-based group of stakeholders with specific objectives for combatting prescription drug abuse. Formed in 2016 by Gov. Hickenlooper, the consortium promotes safe use, safe storage and safe disposal as the chief means of attacking the problem.
Among the many groups supporting these efforts is the pharmaceutical industry itself. The scope of the problem and the millions of lives affected by this epidemic means all of us must do our part. Both the national organization PhRMA and its member companies sponsor programs, provide data and give financial support to participate in stemming the rising tide of prescription abuse.
Like with smoking and other public health issues, the scourge of prescription drug abuse can be overcome. We owe yet another debt of gratitude to our local law enforcement brothers and sisters for taking up the cause and appreciate the efforts of all of those involved.