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Few takers yet on cistern offer
State water development director Mike Purcell said questions from residents about an offer to provide cisterns for clean water near Pavillion still need to be answered. File photo

Few takers yet on cistern offer near Pavillion

Jun 13, 2012 - By Martin Reed, Staff Writer

About two weeks after state officials explained to roughly 50 people an offer to install taxpayer-funded cisterns at households with poor water quality several miles east of Pavillion, the response has been a trickle.

"I know we've had two to four requests for cisterns," Wyoming Water Development Office director Mike Purcell said in a telephone interview on June 12.

Purcell and with Jeremiah Rieman, Gov. Matt Mead's natural resource policy adviser, led a 90-minute meeting at Wind River High School in Pavillion on May 30 to discuss the state's plan to install cisterns.

$750,000 available

The plan resulting from a $750,000 appropriation from the Wyoming Legislature arrived as the state works to provide clean drinking water to affected residents while numerous government agencies continue tests in the area.

The groups are working to determine whether the oil and gas extraction practice known as hydraulic fracturing used in the energy field owned by Encana Corp. is contaminating groundwater.

As testing continues, Purcell said further work is happening on the cistern plan. He expects discussion on the matter during a meeting of the state Legislature's Select Water Committee with the Wyoming Water Development Commission in Riverton on Aug. 16-17.

"I think that will be the point in time all the contracts will be considered," Purcell said.

There will be a memorandum of agreement between the water commission and Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality related to the plan, he said.

Requirements for residents

Residents who decide to get cisterns must sign an agreement with the state that allows the Department of Environmental Quality to test their groundwater well.

Purcell said some details remain to be worked out. "There were some questions asked at the meeting that we as a group need to figure out how to respond to," he said.

There are about 35 wells identified in the designated area in and around the vicinity of what's known as the Pavillion gas field that are eligible for the cisterns.

The offer for each eligible household entails a cistern system that includes a storage tank capable of holding 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of clean water -- a two- to three-week supply.

Homeowners will be responsible for operations and maintenance costs of the system, as well as routine water delivery costs that could hit $160 or more a month.

From town's supply

Part of the $750,000 appropriation will fund the construction of a water delivery site using the Town of Pavillion's municipal wells, which can handle the extra users on the system, officials said.

Anyone residing outside of the area who wants a cistern can request a well test by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. The presence of hydrocarbons will qualify residents for a cistern installed at their home.

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