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Pavillion-area water delivery to start where wells contaminated
May 5, 2014 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer
Pavillion-area residents are creating an organization to provide household water to locals in an area under study for groundwater contamination.
The non-profit group, called the North Ocean Lake Water Association, is to receive $400,000 from the state for the work. The state will administer the funds through a contract with the association
Jon Martin, chairman of the group's board of directors, said North Ocean Lake Water Association also will sign a contract with a trucking company that will deliver the water. He anticipates deliveries should begin this week through Bestuls Trucking Service of Hudson.
The water will go to houses that already have received a cistern from the state.
In 2012, the Wyoming Legislature created a program to provide 4,000-gallon cisterns to people living near oil and gas wells around Pavillion after concerns arose that hydraulic fracturing contaminated the area's groundwater.
Over the winter, a contractor installed 19 cisterns at residences east of Pavillion and built a water-loading station in the town. Officials plan to install 16 more stations by the end of the summer according to Jeremiah Rieman, natural resources policy adviser for Gov. Matt Mead.
"We expect we will have full funding to install all those cisterns," Rieman said, adding, "We may have additional money should we need to install additional cisterns, but at this point we don't intend to offer a third round."
The state shored up funding for the cisterns during the winter after concerns arose that the $750,000 the Legislature appropriated in 2012 for the project would not be enough.
Residents signed up to receive the cisterns.
Any household with a cistern from the state is eligible to get free water from NOLWA.
Each household would be able to receive up to 48,000 gallons a year. The amount was based on a projected monthly use of 4,000 gallons per household, Martin said.
The trucking company will measure the water it delivers, he continued. Residents who reach their household quota before the year is up will be responsible for procuring their own water until the next 12-month period begins, he said.
He expects the $400,000 from the state will be spent in six years.
"As long as that $400,000 lasts, we're going to provide free water delivery," Martin said.
The legislation passed in 2012 only provided for the cisterns and a water loading station and envisioned residents would transport and pay for water themselves.
Mead in January announced the additional $400,000 to pay for the water and its delivery. The NOLWA group formed soon after the announcement.
The money comes from a $1.5 million grant Encana Corporation gave the state after the Environmental Protection Agency in June 2013 halted a study of groundwater contamination near Encana's oil wells in the Pavillion area. State agencies took up the investigation instead.
NOLWA plans to mail contracts for water delivery to all households that received a cistern.
The agreements are simple and do not require any payment from landowners, Martin said.
"The only thing we're asking is that they only use it for household use," he said. "We're asking they don't use it for watering their lawn or whatever."
The association is not a special district and would have no taxing authority, Rieman said.
Bestuls plans to deliver water two or three days a week for NOLWA, Martin said, adding that the system already has been tested. Recently, he said, the Wyoming Rural Water Development Council provided a free water delivery to make sure the cisterns were in working order.
Martin said the tanks performed well.
The test also demonstrated that NOLWA's use of the loading station in Pavillion would not put a strain on the municipal water system.
"They were drawing more like 60,000 to 80,000 gallons in one day, and there was no problem whatsoever," Martin said.
In the future, the burden would be more like 24,000 to 30,000 gallons in a day for two or three days a week.
Martin said state engineers already tested the municipal system to ensure it could handle the load.
Before the state provided cisterns, many area residents said they avoided drinking their well water. Many had their water delivered, Martin said, or they hauled water home in their own cisterns.
He says his well water is safe, and he plans to continue to use it for his horses and lawn.
His household water will come from the town of Pavillion, whose municipal water supply is not contaminated.