Proposed drilling in Grand Junction watershed rises again

In late June, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released its long-awaited revised Environmental Assessment on a proposal to drill 108 oil wells in the Grand Junction watershed outside of Whitewater. WCC has beaten back various forms of this proposal for years, and last year won a reprieve from the impending project when the State BLM Director agreed with protests filed by WCC, Citizens for a Healthy Community and the Western Environmental Law Center.

The proposal was then sent back to the drawing board for further analysis and the revised proposal is now available for public comment until July 28.

The amended environmental assessment may be found at bit.ly/2ttMDMH. Written comments may be sent to the Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Whitewater MDP, 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO 81652, or comments may be submitted to blm_co_si_mail@blm.gov.

As of this writing, WCC staff and leaders are still reviewing the changes in the document to see if our concerns have been adequately addressed. Chief among those concerns are air and water quality impacts – not only to the municipal watershed, but also to springs in the area that local ranchers depend on for their livelihoods.

Whitewater rancher and WCC member Don Lumbardy depends on water from the spring near his ranch, for both drinking water and for his livestock. Last year Don greeted the news of a revised analysis with hope, saying, “It’s time to have an adult conversation about this project and cover our concerns the in-depth analysis they deserve.”

Our next steps are dependent on what we find in the review. However, one thing is for sure, we will hold the project to the highest standards possible and take the action necessary to protect this critical watershed.

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