Oil and Gas Contamination of Jackson County Waters
New oil and gas development has come to Jackson County, Colorado, and many Jackson County residents are concerned that the effects of oil and gas drilling and extraction on public health and the environment are not being monitored.
About 1,400 citizens live in Jackson County, which is located in north-central Colorado. The county seat and home to about half of the county’s residents is Walden. Oil wells dating back to the 1960s line a ridge northeast of Walden, so Jackson County residents are familiar with oil and gas development. These oil wells border the Michigan River watershed, which is protected as the source of water for Walden. Now, oil and gas development, enabled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, is starting in the Grizzly Creek watershed to the southwest of Walden.
The Oil and Gas committee of the Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action (www.westerncoloradoalliance.org) expressed a need for monitoring Grizzly Creek waters for oil and gas contamination. Before the recent surge in drilling, they received limited support from Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey, but they have not been able to recruit or raise funds for continued water quality monitoring. They requested that we assist their organization in re-starting a water quality monitoring effort.
The goals of this project are to (1) monitor the Grizzly Creek watershed in Jackson County for oil and gas contamination, (2) inform Jackson County residents about public health and environmental effects of oil and gas development, and (3) assist the Western Colorado Alliance for Community Action in obtaining funding to sustain the water quality monitoring plan.
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