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City Council approves Shell deal

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- With little discussion and only a few changes to a contract that sets up the lease of five acre feet of water by the city of Walsenburg to Shell Energy, the city council gave its approval with a 7-2 vote.
City council members Erin Jerant and Gary Sporcich were the dissenting votes to a contract that will net the city close to $100,000 giving them breathing room in a tight fiscal year.
“I didn’t see any kind of assurance; that’s what I was concerned for. I feel like a multibillion dollar corporation like Shell could at least put something down on paper to assure their work. It wasn’t about the water,” Sporcich said.
With the contract in hand, Shell Energy next goes to the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission to garner their recommendation for approval on a conditional use permit (CUP) application. The P and Z commission will consider the CUP application during a regular meeting on Tuesday June 14.
The permit governs use of the ground surface. CUPs are needed for any kind of building project in the county such as well pads, out buildings, the making of service roads and many other activities.
A permit to drill is issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a state level regulatory agency.
The amount of water needed by Shell Energy is estimated at five acre feet. A schedule of usage requires the city to have one acre foot for Shell from June to July. One to two acre feet will be needed by Shell from July to August with the balance required from August to September.
The contract also calls for Shell Energy to purchase the water needed for augmentation at a ratio of 2 to 1. The extra water needed for augmentation will stay with the city and be seen as an administrative purchase. The original five acre feet will leave the city’s purview and will enter extra-territorial use which then will need to be augmented.
If Shell finds that it might need more water to complete work on the Kilkus test well, the contract allows the city to enter into another lease.
An anticipated protest at Walsenburg City Hall didn’t materialize, and it took the city only five minutes to reach a decision to approve the contract.
The city is considering selling water to the Busch Ranch wind farm project. The sale calls for only 5,000 gallons which will be used to tamp the ground as pads for the turbines are built.
In other business, the Broncos will be coming to Walsenburg June 26. They will be at John Mall to help celebrate their contribution of around $60,000 towards the completion of the Community Sports Complex. The celebration will be from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Work still needs to be done to complete the complex. The area that will hold the shot-put and javelin pit, which is located at the west end of the parking area, still needs finishing. Gates also need to be installed along with fencing to control crowds during events. Bleachers are still planned as well.
Walsenburg will once again split the insurance costs with the Chamber of Commerce for the Black Diamond Jubilee. Voting 9-0 to use about $673 from the donation fund, the city will match $673 from the Chamber of Commerce to purchase the insurance needed in order to stage the annual celebration.