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Walsenburg City Council approached by Shell Oil

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG- Shell Oil point man Larry Kinnaird approached the Walsenburg City Council during its regular meeting on Tuesday April 19, requesting that the city consider selling Shell Oil five acre feet of water to be used in the operation of a test well that will be drilled near La Veta. No exact location was given.
Kinnaird told the city that the company has three to four drill sites and will need the water to operate. Right now the request is a verbal request based on this initial contact between Shell Oil and the city of Walsenburg. “We hope to conduct more seismic testing in June and should have our first well in by July.”
When council member Erin Jerant pushed Kinnaird on the location of the first test well, he informed the council that it would be located within three to four miles of the Grandote Golf Course. He told the council that the operations area had to be close to a water source.
He told the council that Shell Oil would need around five acre feet of water and would prefer to purchase the water from the city. The city stands to make about $97,800 on the sale of water to Shell Oil. The water would come from city-owned Lake Wahatoya.
“But that lake is used by fishermen, it’s full of fish,” Council member Jerant said. “How are you going to get this water and how will we know how much you use?” Kinnaird replied, “We will use filters to siphon the water so that the fish aren’t harmed.” The water usage will be metered.
Shell Oil had considered putting the first well in near Gardner, their north site. According to Kinnaird, the company likes to have a north and south site to establish test wells. Kinnaird was asked why Shell Oil backed out of using the Gardner site. “We would prefer to give some kind of benefit to a municipality rather then a private agency.”
The city hopes to have researched the issue and possibly have a response to Shell Oil’s request at the May 3, city council meeting.
Walsenburg received approval on its emergency substitute water supply plan (SWSP) that had been filed with the state engineer. The plan will fill a gap created when the original SWSP was used for a fifth and final year to cover the augmentation the city is required to apply to water that it is supplying to areas north of the hogback.
These areas include the Northlands, Dakota, Toltec, the St. Mary Cemetery, Huerfano County Airport and individual residences. It may also include the proposed Huerfano County Ambulance Enterprise which is estimated to use no more then one acre foot of water a year. Weber Drilling is also included because it provides water to 29 residents where wells are contaminated with methane gas. Monthly metered usage by Weber is 83,180 gallons or 0.28 acre feet.
Both the ambulance enterprise and Weber Drilling are exceptions to the non-expansion prohibition for the Northlands that is in force until the city can complete its state mandated water project for the Northlands. Other conditions call for close monitoring of usage and diversions.
A previous SWSP has been in force since 2007. The original plan was first used for one year starting in 2007. It was renewed each year for five years with 2011 being the last year the plan could be applied. Now the city has submitted the new SWSP which will cover a period of June 1, 2011 through August 31, 2011.
Walsenburg Police Lieutenant Kurt Liebchen delivered the Police Chief’s report. He used the time to boost the “National Drug Take Back Day”, set for Saturday, April 30, at City Hall. National Drug Take Back Day coordinated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is an effort to encourage people to give up any unused prescription medications and expired over the counter products.
Lt. Liebchen will collect the drugs at the utility window in City Hall from 10 am to 2 pm April 30. The drugs will be destroyed by the DEA.
It is part of a national effort to keep out-of-date and unused medications from being flushed down the toilet where they end up getting into a town or city’s water supply. They can also leach into ground and surface water sources used by agriculture and contaminate food supplies.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:30. The next regular meeting of the Walsenburg City Council is scheduled for Tuesday, May 3.

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