• DEQ Begins Testing Pavillion Groundwater
  • August 7, 2014
  • Law Firm: Holland Hart LLP - Denver Office
  • The WDEQ will begin testing groundwater near Pavillion, Wyoming for chemicals, glycol, surfactant, potential bacteria, pesticides and herbicides.

    The testing will, for the most part, replicate an earlier study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which concluded that the cause of groundwater contamination was nearby natural gas operations. The EPA’s heavily criticized findings were never finalized or submitted for peer review. The EPA has since turned over its investigation to the state.

    One shortcoming of the EPA study was its failure to consider the possibility of agricultural contamination. WDEQ groundwater section manager Mark Thiesse plans to conduct a more comprehensive analysis: “Everything we can think of we will look at.”

    Once the study is completed, it will be reviewed by an independent expert. The plan is to then send the report to Encana, which owns the gas fields in the area, and the EPA, for review before the report is released to the public. As the WDEQ studies groundwater, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is studying the integrity of natural gas wells and produced water storage pits. These studies will undergo the same review process.

    Members of the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens filed a state records request for a draft of the reports, arguing that there is no legal basis for allowing Encana or the EPA early review.