From 2007 to 2011, Judy Jordan served as oil and gas liaison for Garfield County. In June 2011, Jordan was suddenly dismissed without any explanation from the BOCC to the public she served. A letter from Jordan appeared in the Post Independent on January 20, in which she reveals she was fired before she was able to release the shocking results of her Mamm Creek groundwater study.The letter is posted here with her permission.
In 2010, I designed and received support from the Garfield Board of County Commissioners to continue studying groundwater in the gas patch south of Silt.
Phase III of the Mamm Creek study was the first in the nation to utilize monitoring wells drilled specifically to provide piezometric and water quality data in the gas patch. (Thanks to the public-minded generosity of the Protzes and Pepi Langegger, who allowed the wells to be placed on their properties).
A report was to be presented at the June 2011 Energy Advisory Board meeting, which I scheduled because the consultant and I had reviewed two rounds of data and I felt the public was entitled to learn the results.
The data showed that hydrocarbons were present in all six monitoring wells that we drilled. Not only was there thermogenic methane, but compounds known as homologs of methane also appeared, suggesting one of the following:
• The drinking water aquifer (the Wasatch Formation) contained native hydrocarbons.
• The Wasatch received hydrocarbons that naturally migrated from commercial gas targets below, such as the Williams Fork Formation.
• Gas wells induced migration of hydrocarbons up into the drinking water aquifer.
Analysis of the piezometric data from the monitoring wells would help answer the question as to which of these processes was responsible for the presence of hydrocarbons in the monitoring wells and possibly some of the drinking water wells found to contain methane in Phase II of the study.
The consultants asked me for another month to review data and develop their conclusions. That would have concluded the study by July, or August.
Now it appears the BOCC may have extended the study, but it is not clear why or even that they have. Meanwhile, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission did its own study showing that gas wells have leaked into the aquifer. See East Mamm Creek Project Drilling and Cementing Study of June 20, 2011.
Garfield County residents deserve to know what happened with the approximately $300,000 that was spent on Phase III, and why the report is being delayed.