Dec 22, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff WriterConstruction has begun in a program to provide safe drinking water to Pavillion-area residents affected by groundwater contaminated some say is tied to hydraulic fracturing in the area.
But the project appears to lack sufficient funding to provide clean-water cisterns to all interested households.
Of the original $750,000 set aside by the legislature in 2012, only $106,000 is not yet allocated.
"It's looking like it's going to be tight," program manager for the Wyoming Water Development Commission Keith Clarey said.
"We're going to have to evaluate if we have to add some funding."
Clarey spoke at a public meeting of a working group on Pavillion area water issues on Dec. 17.
Construction started last week on a water loading station located in Pavillion, and Clarey expects the first cisterns to be installed the second week of January.
Originally, $460,000 was budgeted to build 19 cisterns for the households to sign up in the first phase, and $100,000 was set aside to construct a water loading station.
Bids in November to build those pieces came in higher than expected, and an additional $73,000 was authorized for the work, bringing the total contracted to $633,000.
The WWDC also authorized $11,000 to reimburse a landowner who had already had a cistern installed, leaving $106,000.
Another resident has requested about $4,700 to be reimbursed for building a small cistern, but the commission has not approved the expenditure yet.
In the second sign-up phase, eight more landowners indicated interest in receiving a cistern and four have partially signed contracts.
Clarey was concerned that the $106,000 might not be enough to cover costs for the phase-two residents.
Based on the original $460,000 budget for 30 cisterns, the cost of a cistern was projected to be $24,000.
Eight cisterns should cost at least $192,000.
As the original budget was too small, however, the final cost for eight more cisterns could be higher.
Some landowners ultimately might opt not to sign agreements to be part of the program, but others may still sign up. Enrollment has not closed. State officials believe 35 households are near enough to the Pavillion oil and gas field to qualify for a cistern.
Contractor Viper Underground is to contact residents a week before installation to work out details of the process if they are to receive one of the 20 cistern in the phase of construction starting in January.
Environmental officers have not determined what is causing of the groundwater contamination in the area.
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