by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG- A standing room crowd jammed the Huerfano County Commissioners meeting room Wednesday in support of a letter from Congressman John Salazar to the Bureau of Land Management officials requesting that the agency not issue any pending leases in Huerfano County that would entail production of any shallow drilling areas until adequate water quality studies can be completed. Salazar also requested that none of the shallow drilling parcels leased in Huerfano County in May be leased in an upcoming September sale.
The letter was read by Loretta Kennedy, an aide to Congressman Salazar. The room broke out into applause following the reading. Commissioner Art Bobian said the Commissioners approve of the action and have worked in various ways to try and protect water rights for residents in the county.
Many of those in attendance have been affected or could be affected, by coal bed methane drilling in Huerfano County. Salazar is requesting that the U.S. Geological Survey office complete a hydrologic survey covering the Raton Formation. The Colorado Water Engineer’s Office is also conducting a study to evaluate issues of water supply in Huerfano County. Congressman Salazar said that many of his constituents have had their safety threatened by contaminated water and that leasing of land for shallow drilling should not continue until it can be done in a manner that protects people’s water supplies.
In other action, the Commissioners will now accept checks at the waste transfer station. Up until now, only cash has been taken and there have been some complaints about it. They did not change the days of operation and feels that until citizens make better use of the facility, they can not expand days or hours of operation.
While dispatch services are running smooth the amount of money to operate the system is costing the county money. Administrator, John Galusha told the Commissioners that there will have to be an increase to the various entities next year on the per call basis for the County to at least break even.