Guest post by Thomas Thompson, Rifle landowner. Thomas is holding a public meeting, “Life in the Gasfields” on Thursday, December 13, at 1:00 p.m. In Part 2, Thomas shows and tells how exactly how Encana destroyed Porcupine Creek.
Encana has an existing well on the far end of my property and an access road to the pad. In 2006, our annual flash flood on Porcupine Creek washed out Encana’s low-water crossing at this point. There was no culvert or bridge before that time, just a place where Encana drove across the creek bed.
Encana could no longer access their pad on my place so they sent out their reps and construction crew and we discussed a solution which was their construction of a concrete pad in the creek bed. Then without notice their crew and truck arrived with these 3 concrete culvert sections. The sections were placed on the creek bed then fitted closely together to make the culvert. Encana assured me the culvert bridge had been engineered to handle the flow on Porcupine Creek and all problems had been resolved.
Encana also had to build up the access road several feet on each side of the culvert to make the bridge. I am no civil engineer so I did not realize that what they had done was to build a levee and potential dam across the valley.
We had already passed the flood season that year but beginning in 2007 the bridge clogged the creek. The culvert bridge was obviously too small. I cleaned the culvert with my own hands, a rock bar, and the winch on my Jeep. Same thing happened in 2008, 2009, 2010 – clogged culvert but no response of help from Encana.
In 2011, the annual flood completely blocked the culvert and overflowed the creek bed 200 yards upstream, destroyed the creek banks, and covered almost 2 acres of my property with mud, boulders, logs and all other debris which should have flowed downstream depositing the debris over miles of creek bed as it had since God was in grammar school — or at least before Encana built their bridge.
This strange-looking photo [above] is the interior of Encana’s culvert bridge showing the debris completely clogging the upstream end of the culvert. This culvert is about 5 feet high and 7 feet wide by 24 feet long. This culvert is at the point where Encana’s gas well access road crosses Porcupine Creek immediately north or downstream of my property.
Here are two photos of the same creek bed after the culvert clogged and the creek bed filled with debris.
Encana has done what they term their remedial project which barely scratched out the creek bed and left boulders weighing hundreds of pounds to tumble in the creek making it very dangerous so we don’t get to enjoy the creek.
We also found that the culvert which weighs more than 40,000 pounds is resting directly on the high pressure gas pipeline beneath it in the creek bed. Industry practice is to bury pipelines at least 48 inches beneath the surface and our Surface Damage and Use Agreement also specifies at least 48 inches.
Encana has been aware of this issue and the extreme danger it presents for many years and certainly since they installed the culvert in 2006. Yet they remain content to leave it as is and have done nothing to resolve the issue.
This pipeline could be fractured by the weight of the culvert at any minute resulting in an explosion and fire that would incinerate this entire valley and everyone in it before we could react. I will show folks the culvert during the tour next week but we won’t stay there long.
Above is the “after” photo looking south or upstream from the culvert bridge. You can see the creek bed after Encana’s remedial project which barely scratched out a ditch for water flow. Before the damage this creek bed was 15 to 30 feet wide and 12 to 15 feet deep and was adequate to carry water and debris efficiently even during our monsoon rains.
Encana has scratched out a cheap version that is maybe 6 to 8 feet wide and 4 to 6 feet deep. They also stacked round river rocks along the edges to prevent the destroyed creek banks from collapsing. All they accomplished was to stack these boulders so they tend to roll and fall into the creek bed while the adjoining areas continue to collapse. I recently found a dead rabbit where it had been crushed by a falling rock in the creek. A civil engineer and professional earth mover tells me the next time we have a monsoon rain this entire area will probably liquefy and cause much more damage.