Phase III study: Judy Jordan

judy jordan facebook

Judy Jordan’s Facebook photo

No discussion of the Mamm Creek Study is complete without including Judy Jordan. From 2007 to 2011, Jordan served as oil and gas liaison for Garfield County.

Right out of the gate in 2007, Jordan had to figure out how to address the Mamm Creek Study Phase II draft report that contained some disturbing test results but lacked any causality or conclusion. With the county’s blessing, Jordan hired Colorado School of Mines professor, Dr. Geoffrey Thyne to review the Phase II data.

Dr. Thyne and graduate student, Tamee Albrecht presented this abstract, which completely contradicts Thyne’s recent opinions about the source of methane.

Distinguishing Impacts of Natural Gas Production on Water Quality, Piceance Basin, Colorado

Albrecht, Tamee R. and Geoffrey D. Thyne
Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO

Semi-arid western Colorado has vulnerable water resources, but is experiencing rapid growth in petroleum exploration and production activities. An increasing trend in average groundwater methane concentration is correlated to the increasing number of gas wells in the Mamm Creek area suggesting that increased well drilling has impacted water quality. Isotopic data shows that some methane is thermogenic, but other samples are derived from CO2-reduction of CO2, possibly from the production interval. More detailed statistical analysis of hydrochemical data produced other criteria to detect impact including elevated Fe-Mn, Na-Cl-SO4 or Na-HCO3-Cl water chemistry. Samples with high Fe-Mn as well as elevated benzene and methane concentrations are found primarily at methane seeps where reducing conditions dominate. Other impacted samples appear to be influenced by produced water from the gas-production interval. Inverse geochemical modeling shows that the impacted samples can result from mixing normal groundwater with 2-8% produced water. The absence of benzene in some impacted samples is probably due to rapid natural degradation. Reactive transport modeling shows that benzene travels less than 50 meters in 6 years under aquifer conditions. These models can be used to help regulate the density of petroleum development in areas where groundwater resources are actively utilized. This study demonstrates that there are discernable impacts from petroleum activities on water resources in the Mamm Creek field, although impacts are generally below actionable levels. Methane and salinity appear to be better indicators of subtle impacts, whereas benzene and high Fe-Mn define larger impact events.

Naturally, their conclusions set the industry’s hair on fire. In response Jordan designed Phase III of the study — the monitoring wells phase. The sets of two nested wells at different depths was her idea.

Fast forward to 2011, after final sampling of the monitoring wells, Jordan scheduled a report on the Phase III study for the June Energy Advisory Board meeting. Yes, that is correct. According to Jordan the Phase III study was completed two years ago. However at the time, the consultants asked for more time to review the data. But the county fired Judy Jordan in June, before she could make public the results of the Phase III study.

In January 2012, Jordan wrote a letter to the editor (published in the Post Independent and on this blog) asking “What happened to the Mamm Creek groundwater study?”

In response to her question, the BOCC allocated another $90,000 (on top of $300,000 already spent) to “continue studying.” Presumably that contract went to Tetra Tech to “fix” the results in the industry’s favor.

Jordan wrote an essay for Earthworks in February 2012:  A case study in how industry influence squelches the science of gas drilling impacts

When I re-read it this week I realized this is her “citizen review” of the Mamm Creek Study. Her essay now serves as an historical record when combined with current events shows how the Garfield County Commissioners manipulated and mishandled the Mamm Creek Phase III study in their quest to exonerate the oil and gas industry from any liability whatsoever.

Jordan currently lives in Reston, Virginia, and works for BSEE (Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement). I asked for her comment about the county’s presentation of the Phase III study. She replied:

“Thanks for letting me know they’d finished this. I believe they reported that the groundwater gradient appeared to be downward, which would suggest that at least any dissolved hydrocarbons would be moving downward instead of upward from the Williams Fork that they produce from. Free hydrocarbons could migrate upward due to lower density, and I’m not sure they really addressed that question from what I saw.  Potentially good ‘peer reviewers’ might be the guys from Duke who authored the Dimock, PA study. They appeared to have an unbiased and scientific approach.”


The past seeps into Phase III study

Bob Arrington: Cooking in the kitchen

This webpage contains links to documents related to the study:
Phase III Hydrogeologic Characterization for the Mamm Creek Field Area

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3 Comments on “Phase III study: Judy Jordan”

  1. Carl Mc Williams Says:

    It is well known the “Three Amigos”; Republican County Commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankovsky killed the Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment. It is also well know that Judy Jordan was fired because of O&G Industry pressure. Furthermore, it is common knowledge the Three Amigos fired County Manager Ed Green because of his adamant opposition to buying the WORRELL & DURRETT building for 240% of appraised value, or $1.15 Million more that the property was appraised. And now Peggy reports the Three Amigos have tampered with the scientific data from the Mamm Creek. “Judy Jordan’s 2012 essay now serves as an historical record when combined with current events shows how the Garfield County Commissioners manipulated and mishandled the Mamm Creek Phase III study in their quest to exonerate the oil and gas industry from any liability whatsoever.”

    So if you think about it, why would the citizens of Glenwood Springs and Carbondale trust the “Three Amigos”; over not allowing fracking truck traffic from the Thompson Divide on Grand Avenue via Four Mile Road?

    The only way to ensure that fracking traffic will never travel on Grand Avenue is to recall the Three Amigos.

  2. Beth Strudley Says:

    Yeah, so Kirby Wynn walks up past my house sometimes with his wife and two dogs. He’s a nice enough guy, very skittish, and a wee bit awkward. (He’s in Judy’s former job) I reminded him not to be nice to me or any other civilians or he’ll get his ass fired too. Didn’t even acknowledge my statement. He did twitch when I said it though…..Sure miss Judy!

  3. Mary Russell Says:

    When I first attended an EAB meeting, in the winter of 2011, I was uneducated about the formation and internal workings of this county-created board. Two years later, after attending and speaking at many of these meetings, as a member of the audience, I’ve been intimately educated on the workings of this board. I’ve been told that I was “out of order” when I was utilizing the 3-minute time I had as an audience member to speak my peace.

    Tonight’s meeting, with an update on the Phase III study, will add my education. I hope those of you who know much, much more than I do are there to listen and question the educational presentation by Tetra, on the Phase III study.

    John Colson will not be there to report on the meeting for the PI, but John Stroud might be. He is as capable as Colson, at picking out the inequities and mis-information often masked as “fact” by those who present their educational material.

    In the two years I’ve attended these monthly meetings, I’ve asked the EAB to invite Dr. Theo Colburn to report on the TEDX research on the scientific data her PhD scientists are collected in reference to how the oil and gas industry’s activities affect ground water and surface air quality. She still hasn’t been invited.

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