water

News
6:18 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Coalbed Methane Extraction Altered Water Quality In Powder River, Study Finds

A U.S. Geological Survey study shows that coalbed methane development has changed the chemistry of the surface water in parts of the Powder River. CBM wastewater was often discharged directly or indirectly into the stream.  

The study analyzed three decades of data and determined that after extraction activities, the water contained more sodium and bicarbonate, which are compounds commonly found in CBM wastewater.

Report author Steve Sando says high sodium levels can be bad for irrigation, but he says the concentrations in the Powder River are not alarmingly high.

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News
5:55 pm
Mon January 27, 2014

Pavillion Cistern Program To Receive Money For Water Delivery

Governor Matt Mead is committing $400,000 dollars for water delivery to households with cisterns in the Pavillion area. Residents have long complained of unusable well water, which some blame on nearby natural gas development. The money is part of a grant from Encana Oil and Gas, which operates in the Pavillion gas field.

19 cisterns are currently being installed, with another 13 households signed up.

The Governor’s Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, says residents will meet later this week to discuss how to use the money.

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News
5:10 pm
Wed January 15, 2014

Laramie County water study shows varied rates of drawdown

Draft results of a hydrogeologic study in Laramie County indicate that water is being used at different rates, in different parts of the county.

The State Engineer’s office undertook the study because of water shortages in the area. They wanted to find out why water levels have been declining, and whether the drawdowns are equally bad everywhere.

State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says what they’ve found so far is somewhat reassuring.

“It does appear that most of the drawdown issues are localized,” Tyrrell said. “And that’s a good result to know.”

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News
6:17 pm
Mon November 25, 2013

Environmental groups urge speedy development of pollution prevention plan for Pinedale

Credit Courtesy Linda Baker

Environmental groups are urging the Bureau of Land Management to quickly develop a plan for preventing future groundwater pollution in the Pinedale Anticline gas fields.

The BLM released a report this week that said groundwater contamination in the area was mostly not a result of natural gas production. But Bruce Pendery with the Wyoming Outdoor Council says regulators still need to be vigilant in preventing potential future problems.

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News
5:17 pm
Wed November 6, 2013

Encana breaks ground on water treatment facility

Encana broke ground today on a treatment facility for produced water -- the contaminated water that's pulled up along with oil in the drilling process. The Neptune Water Treatment Facility will sit outside of Casper and serve the Moneta Divide field, which currently has about 300 wells but could eventually have more than 4-thousand. The facility will treat some of the produced water from current wells. A controversial plan to inject wastewater into the Madison Aquifer is another water disposal method Encana plans to use in the field.

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News
8:59 am
Mon November 4, 2013

State begins to develop a water strategy

Calling water a valuable Wyoming resource, Governor Matt Mead’s office is in the process of developing a long term water strategy similar to the recently developed energy policy.   Beginning this week a series of meetings will take place across the state that will gather feedback from citizens on how the state should proceed. 

Mead policy analyst Nephi  Cole  said they expect to hear about a number of issues.             

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Open Spaces
4:03 pm
Fri October 25, 2013

UW’s WyCEHG program could help Wyoming get the most out of its water

Hydrogeophysicist Steve Holbrook marks the GPS coordinates of points where he and his team will seismically measure the subsurface. Holbrook co-directs the Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics, which hopes to better understand snowpack and aquifers in the state.
Credit Rebecca Martinez

In such an arid state as Wyoming, water is precious. Last year, the University of Wyoming created the Wyoming Center for Hydrology and Geophysics, combining field experts and state-of-the art technology to better understand where water goes in after it falls from the sky, since much of it ends up in snowpack or underground.

There isn’t too much information available about that, but it’s important to state and local water managers, who need to know just how much water they have to work with. Rebecca Martinez reports.

(beeping)

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News
7:53 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Cloud seeding to play role in Wyoming water management

Credit Irina Zhorov

How to deal with future variability in water supplies was the topic of conversation at a conference Wednesday about water use and energy development.

Wyoming Water Development Commission Director Harry LaBonde says managing the state’s water supply will require a multi-pronged approach: conservation, storage and weather modification, or cloud-seeding.

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Landfills
6:41 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

DEQ seeks state support to move forward with landfill closures

Many of Wyoming’s landfills are leaking or approaching capacity, so the Department of Environmental Quality is working with state agencies and municipalities to develop and fund a plan to close facilities that aren’t environmentally sustainable, and move new waste to landfills which are.

DEQ Spokesman Keith Guille says the existing landfills in the state are permitted, and were built to environmental standards at the time.

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Baseline testing
6:56 pm
Mon September 30, 2013

Legislative committee interrogates baseline testing rule

Credit Bob Jenkins / Wikipedia

Legislators had a lot of questions about a proposed water-testing rule for oil and gas wells during a meeting of the Minerals Committee last week.

Governor Matt Mead proposed the rule, which would require water testing before and after drilling. Industry estimates it would cost $9,000 to $18,000 per well. The governor’s natural resources policy advisor, Jerimiah Rieman, told legislators it’s worth the cost.

“From my perspective, it’s pretty cheap insurance for the companies,” Rieman said. “It’s pretty cheap for the state to have a rider on that policy.”

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News
6:40 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Moratorium on new water permits extended

Wyoming will not issue any new permits for agricultural or other high-capacity water wells in the Ogallala Aquifer, until a hydrogeologic study of the area is completed.

The Ogallala supplies water to southeastern Wyoming and many other states, and State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says the water is being used up too quickly.

“We’ve continued to see declines in the water level,” Tyrrell said. “And at some point, if we don’t arrest that decline, we’re essentially going to pump ourselves right out of water.”

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Colorado River
3:41 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Colorado Basin states cut back water flow to deal with low reservoir levels

Lake Powell Arizona, USA (from plane). Note the prominent "bathtub ring" made visible by low water (May 2007).
Credit PRA / Creative Commons

Twenty-thirteen marks the 14th year of the worst drought in the past century, so Colorado River Basin states are following 2007 agreement guidelines, and releasing less water from a major reservoir, Lake Powell.


Only 7.48 million acre feet will be released from Lake Powell next water year, down about 9% from normal levels. It’s the lowest release since the 1960s.   

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News
7:03 am
Wed August 14, 2013

Conservation groups use videos to encourage improving water quality

Three conservation organizations have released a series of web videos, encouraging Wyomingites to improve water quality.

The videos highlight best management practices some landowners are using to handle E. coli, selenium and sediment, among other issues.

Kathy Rosenthal is the watershed coordinator for the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, one of the partner groups producing the videos. Rosenthal acknowledged a lack of awareness as one of the major obstacles for Wyoming’s water quality going forward.

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USGS
6:42 pm
Fri July 26, 2013

USGS will merge Wyoming and Montana water monitoring offices

The US Geological Survey will merge operations from their Wyoming and Montana Water Science Centers this fall.
 

The centers measure stream flow and quality in each state, which share two water sheds and have similar geography.
 

Wyoming-based USGS Hydrologist says currently, each team can only do monitoring up to the state line.
 

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News
7:14 am
Fri July 26, 2013

Metal-laden discharges from coal plants poorly regulated

A new report by the environmental group Sierra Club says at least three coal-fired power plants in Wyoming discharge pollution containing metals into streams. According to the report, some plants do not monitor how much waste they discharge or what it contains.

The Environmental Protection Agency says coal plants nationwide contribute more than half of the toxic pollutants discharged to water bodies by regulated industry, but discharge standards have not been updated since 1982. 

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News
8:08 am
Tue July 23, 2013

Groundwater use restrictions placed on parts of Goshen County

Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell has placed restrictions on groundwater use near LaGrange in Goshen County.

Tyrrell says there’s not enough water to go round in the Horse Creek Basin, and that groundwater and surface water in the area are connected. That means people with wells could be taking water that surface water users are entitled to.

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News
6:57 am
Fri July 19, 2013

EPA to consider renewing produced water discharge permits on Wind River Reservation

Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
Credit Elizabeth Shogren/NPR

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on the extension of several water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

The EPA is looking at renewing existing permits that allow companies to pump waste water from oil and gas fields to the surface on the Reservation. The produced water exemption allows this practice only in the arid West. In general, state agencies have tighter regulations than the EPA about what can be pumped to the surface, but tribal land is under the EPA’s jurisdiction.    

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News
4:52 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Event to consider future management of the Snake River

The Summit on the Snake – an annual conference about use of the Snake River – will take place in Jackson this Saturday. Speakers will discuss the wildlife, history, ecology, and management of the Snake River and there will be a panel regarding the future of river management in Jackson Hole.

Snake River Fund Program Director, Margaret Creel, says the Bureau of Land Management will transfer management duties to Teton County soon, and the county needs to figure out how to manage the resource responsibly. Currently, river use is unregulated. 

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News
1:07 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Mining reclamation conference shares lessons for reclamation success

An international conference about mining reclamation ended in Laramie today. The American Society of Mining and Reclamation and the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center hosted the event, which featured technical presentations about reclamation issues as well as policy questions and case studies.

UW professor and director of the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center, Pete Stahl, says there were many Australian and Chinese stakeholders in attendance.   

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News
4:11 pm
Wed June 5, 2013

Environmental groups sue BNSF Railways and coal producers

The Sierra Club and partner organizations filed a lawsuit today against BNSF Railways and several coal producers. The suit claims the companies are violating the federal Clean Water Act when they discharge coal dust along railways from the Powder River Basin without permits to do so.

Pacific Northwest Regional Press Secretary for Sierra Club’ Beyond Coal campaign, Krista Collard, says a letter of intent to file the suit was sent to all parties two months ago, but they did little to limit coal dust pollution.

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Water waste
6:16 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Energy group says fracking water report is sensational

An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.

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snowpack
5:41 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

Despite storms, Wyoming could still face summer water shortages

Credit Associated Press

Last year’s drought could impact the Wyoming water supply this summer.

The National Weather Service says that, although recent storms have helped replenish mountain snowpack, there might not be enough to get back to normal levels of runoff, which is state’s most common water source for crops and municipalities.

NWS Hydrologist Jim Fahey says that’s because the upper soil levels were parched by the drought and will likely absorb much of the runoff. Fahey says this could become especially problematic for some people during the summer months.

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Landfill remediation
5:04 pm
Tue May 7, 2013

Wyoming landfill legislation should improve water quality despite decades-long delay

The Wyoming Rural Water Association supports the state’s plan to limit water pollution caused by leaking landfills… But says it’s already taken too long to get started on the effort, and it could be a while before Wyoming sees significant improvements.

At a press conference last week, Governor Matt Mead reminded the public of two bills the legislature passed this session. They created a municipal solid waste landfill remediation program as well as an initiative to help sub-par landfills close and transfer new garbage to better facilities.

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News
4:10 pm
Thu May 2, 2013

Online map highlights water connections in Pinedale Anticline

An environmental group in Pinedale is trying to help residents understand water quality issues, by creating an online map of gas wells, water wells, and other hydrologic data.

Linda Baker with the Upper Green River Alliance says she got the idea for the project when water wells in the Pinedale Anticline gas field started showing traces of benzene and other pollutants several years ago.

Baker served on the Pinedale Anticline Working Group, and she says data from the Bureau of Land Management, Department of Environmental Quality, and other agencies was very technical.

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News
4:38 pm
Thu April 25, 2013

Report says states need to better monitor water usage by the oil and gas industry

A report by the Western Organization of Resource Councils says the oil and gas industry is using at least seven billion gallons of water per year in just four states: Colorado, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota. The report says after industry is done with that water, it turns into a hazardous material, and in some cases cannot be reused for other purposes.

Powder River Basin Resource Council member Robert LeResche says he’s also worried about states’ lack of regulations regarding the quantity of water used.

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News
5:40 pm
Fri April 19, 2013

'Gasland 2,' a documentary about fracking issues, premiers this weekend

‘Gasland 2’, a sequel to the 2010 documentary ‘Gasland,’ premiers this weekend in New York City. The original film focused on land owners alleging that oil and gas development on their land contaminated their water sources. The movie is thought to have brought the terms ‘fracking’ into the mainstream. The films’ director, Josh Fox, says the sequel investigates how government and regulatory agencies have dealt with what affected land owners say is contamination by industry.

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News
6:11 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Water users seek voluntary measures to deal with shortage

Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says he’s optimistic that community members will be able to come up with voluntary measures to manage water resources in the Horse Creek Basin in southeastern Wyoming.

Tyrrell says there appears to be a water shortage, and he says it’s complicated figuring out how much water everyone is entitled to, because groundwater and surface water are connected in the area.

Tyrrell hosted a public hearing in LaGrange on Friday to gather input from water users about what to do, and he says the meeting was productive.

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News
3:26 pm
Thu April 11, 2013

Encana needs to satisfy EPA's concerns before injecting into Madison aquifer

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana Oil and Gas before signing off on the company’s request for an aquifer exemption. Encana wants to pump waste water into the Madison Aquifer from their oil and gas field in the Moneta Divide. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has already approved the request, but the EPA says the modeling of the plume that Encana did is too broad and the agency wants more information about why, according to Encana, the relatively clean water can’t be used for other purposes .

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News
12:26 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

Native American leader says protecting water rights is key for tribes

Credit Tristan Ahtone

Native American tribes need to make sure they are protecting their natural resources. Eastern Shoshone Business Council member Wes Martel, from the Wind River Indian Reservation, spoke during a University of Wyoming American Indian Studies program this week. Martel said tribes need to be more careful about the kinds of contracts they enter into for energy development. He added that water is the new gold but very few tribes are taking real steps to secure this resource.  

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News
4:49 pm
Wed April 3, 2013

State engineer seeks input on handling apparent water shortage

The state engineer’s office says in parts of Laramie and Goshen Counties, demand for water appears to exceed supply.

State Engineer Pat Tyrrell says groundwater and surface water are connected in that area, so people who draw down the water in their wells are affecting water in streams, which means less water flows into the Hawk Spring Reservoir. He says there hasn’t been enough water to go around for quite some time.

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