A reader posed a question to me this week regarding the time-line of Encana’s activities at the two sites near Vista Ridge and Vista Pointe (named the Pratt site and Waste Connections site). The question jogged my memory; at the Town Hall meeting in August, the Pratt site proposal indicated construction would begin in December 2014 (and the Waste Connections site would begin several months later). Yet it appears the construction actually started in September.
After sending emails both to a representative at Encana, as well as the Erie Board of Trustees, I was surprised to receive a timely response from both parties. Encana did in fact move up the time line. At the Town Hall meeting, the Board had requested that the majority of the drilling operations be finished before next summer. I remember Mayor Pro Tem Mark Gruber saying that it would be better for Erie residents to have the loudest portion of operations happen during the winter months when our windows are more likely to be closed and we will want to spend less time outside. He said it was “unconscionable” for Encana to be drilling in the summer. I agree. Although I’d like to take that thought a bit further and say it’s unconscionable for them to be drilling so close to our community. Period.
So yes, Encana moved up the time-line of drilling operations at the request of the Town Council. And there is a link on the Erieco.gov website that is a “Courtesy Notice” about the planned drilling operations. The Encana representative also told me that residents within a 0.5 mile radius of the site received a written notice and voicemail. However I am having difficulty verifying that the notification happened.
I went for a run yesterday morning with a friend of mine who lives in Vista Ridge. Using google earth distance calculations, I’ve determined that her home sits 0.59 miles from the Pratt site (thus outside of the notification radius). She and I discussed the 0.5 mile notification radius and decided that it is ridiculous. Her comment was, “I feel like by the time I knew any of this was happening, it was too late to do anything to stop it.” She’s exactly right, only even with more notice I don’t think we could have stopped the steamroller that is oil and gas development in Weld County. The only way for people to halt oil/gas development within their communities will be to effect change at the State level.
During the past several days, the question of notification has continued to plague me. At the Town Hall Meeting, Encana showed a map of the area in which homes were notified of the drill site plans. My home did not fall within that circle, so it made sense to me (at the time) that I had not received any notification. In fact, the only reason I knew to attend the town meeting is that I happened to catch a 30 second blurb on 9News two nights before the meeting was to take place.
Now, however, I’m learning to question the information that Encana and the Town of Erie are providing. I have taken the map from within Encana’s “Courtesy Notice” (shown below) and used it to find reference points for distance measurements using other online tools. I used a site called http://www.FreeMapTools.com (although I double checked my calculations with a few other sites as well). I was able to locate the site of both the Pratt and Waste Connections drilling operations, and assign a 0.5 mile radius around it. Do you know what I found? My house is well within the 0.5 mile radius of the Waste Connections site. Yet I have NEVER received any kind of notification from Encana.
I sure hope that the engineers working on the drilling and fracking operations are checking their distance calculations more completely than the people who determined the 0.5 mile radius for notification around the well sites.