Protect why you love it here and provide public comment to the Planning Commission urging protection of our clean water, wildlife, recreation, and down-stream farms.  

This Friday the Gunnison County Planning Commission will take public testimony at 1:00 PM* regarding a Gunnison Energy, Corp. (Koch brother’s owned subsidiary) proposal to build and use 3 pits to hold fluids 9.24 gallons each of used or produced by proposed hydraulic fracturing operations in the North Fork.

According to our conversion, each pit would hold approximately 21 acre-feet of toxic fluids used for natural gas development.  The pits would occupy 19 acres and collectively hold 85** acre-feet of toxic flowback/produced water in the North Fork.  What do those numbers mean?  Well, an acre-foot is the length and width of one football field with one-foot deep water across the surface.  So, in total, the pits would hold one foot ball field 85 feet deep.  Contaminants that can be found in flowback/produced water can include: benzene, arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, selenium, and high salinity content.

The proposed location puts clean water, wildlife, and recreation at risk.  The location is in close proximity to Sheep Creek and within a mile of a domestic drinking water well.  The location is only 2.5 miles upstream from the Paonia Reservoir, which provides important avian habitat and water for down-stream farms and vineyards. Transporting the toxic fluids to and from the pits would occur via pipelines.

Big game and recreation are also put at risk.  The proposed location is in vital mule deer and elk habitat―within mule deer summer range and elk winter range and winter concentration area.  The location is also surrounded by National Forest that is used for hunting, hiking, and other outdoor recreation.

With well over 200 proposed natural gas wells in this area and related infrastructure, it is imperative the Planning Commission ensures any approvals are the result of comprehensive planning.

Protect why you love it here and provide public comment to the Planning Commission!

  • Tell the Commission they should deny this proposal to ensure water, wildlife, and recreation are not substantially degraded by an industrialized landscape approved in a piecemeal fashion.
  • Ask the Planning Commission to require a Comprehensive Drilling Plan so the full size and scale of proposed operations in this area can be understood and considered in the decisionmaking process.
  • Tell the Commission to, at a minimum, adopt and require a closed containment system (tanks that are not open on the top) as well as timing and operating restrictions to provide wildlife with much needed safeguards.

To access the application, go to http://www.gunnisoncounty.org/436/Permit-Database. Click on “Permit Database,” then “public access.”  Then click on “projects” then “application number” and fill in the text box with “OG-14-00004.”  Click on the row that pops up and then click on the tab called “Attachments” to access the application materials.

Written comments must be received by 5:00 PM Thursday, January 22, 2015.  Address written comments to Gunnison County Planning Commission, 200 East Virginia Suite 104, Gunnison CO  81230.  Submit comments electronically to NStarkebaum@gunnisoncounty.org.

The public hearing will start 1:00 PM* Friday, January 23, 2015.  You can find Friday’s agenda here.  The meeting will be held at 221 N. Wisconsin St. in Gunnison, across from the Post Office.

Contact Alli Melton, HCCA’s Public Lands Director with questions or for more information at alli@hccaonline.org or 970.349.7104 ext. 2.

*Earlier post incorrectly stated 8:45 a.m.  The public hearing will start at 1:00 PM.

** The initial calculation of 65 acre feet in a previous post was too few.