In the midst of all the breaking news about the lead contamination in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan, this week, H20 Radio released an alarming investigative report about water well contamination in Colorado’s Raton Basin.
Gas drilling arrived in southern Raton Basin [see map below] in the late 1990s, and along with it came heavy traffic, noise and what many locals say is contaminated water.
Numerous residents discovered they had a chemical in their water called “tert-Butyl alcohol” or “TBA.”
The COGCC investigated the matter and published a report suggesting TBA was naturally occurring, among other explanations. Now the case is closed and the report not only leaves more questions than it answers, but it resigns residents to living with water they dare not drink.
Meet Carol Vanderwall of Boncarbo, Colorado —
For those of us living in oil & gas producing basins, what is important to take away from this report – besides the fact that the COGCC covers up groundwater contamination by the oil & gas industry – is that no testing for TBA was done in any other basin anywhere else in the state. TBA is identified in water sources by testing for it. In other words, once the COGCC identified TBA in water wells in the Boncarbo area, from then on they certainly knew what NOT to test for in other basins in other regions where there were and are complaints of water contamination. It’s a common tactic by the state. You won’t find what you don’t test for. Just like during the Parachute Creek spill, they refused to monitor air quality. That way the amount of benzene being sparged into our air shed could not be measured or determined.
So, even though the chemical “tert-Butyl alcohol” was found in drinking wells in Boncarbo, the CDPHE was never alerted or involved, and no municipalities and definitely not the COGCC are actively testing for TBA. We have no clue about the extent of the contamination. There could be TBA in water wells and municipal water sources in every gasfield across the state, maybe even across the country. But no one is looking into it.