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Conservation Center Receives challenge grant to monitor drinking water for contamination

April 24th, 2011

Filed under Community, Crawford, Hotchkiss, News, Paonia

Last week an anonymous donor contributed $5,000 and issued an additional $5,000 challenge grant to support the Gas Water-Quality Monitoring Program, an initiative of the NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center to monitor the community’s drinking water in light of ongoing gas exploration and development.

If the community is able to contribute $5,000, the total amount of $15,000 will be used to collect and analyze water samples from drinking water supplies located near active and proposed gas wells in Delta and Gunnison Counties. This baseline data will document current water quality – and if the community faces contaminated water supplies in the future, the baseline data will demonstrate when the changes occurred and may also help identify the cause of the contamination.

The anonymous donor, a Colorado native, said, “The need for solid data is clear, and I am glad to hear that there is a group able to take this on.”

Watershed groups across the country are developing similar projects to document the quality of their drinking water supplies. The Conservation Center has offered advice and monitoring strategies to both in-and out-of-state groups that would like to use their project as a model.

The North Fork program is unique because it uses professionally trained River Watch volunteers to collect and process the water samples. Mike Galloway, senior hydro geologist with ERO Resources, donated his time to train the volunteers to collect water samples to strict professional standards. “The volunteers have demonstrated their ability to collect valid and representative water samples as part of the River Watch program and I am confident that this experience will insure the success of the Gas Water Quality Monitoring Program.”

The $5,000 donation will partially fund the second of four quarterly rounds of sampling and the additional $5,000 and matching funds will fund subsequent rounds; however, the Conservation Center needs additional funds to complete the project. Chemical analysis for constituents typical of gas-related compounds is expensive, up to $1,000 per sample. The Center hopes to collect four rounds of samples before the end of the year from fourteen sites in Delta and Gunnison Counties.

Any donations made to the project will be matched dollar-for-dollar by the anonymous donor, up to $5,000. Sarah Sauter, Director of Water Programs at the NFRIA-WSERC Conservation Center says,”This project is an opportunity to proactively get an official record of our water quality. Ideally, we hope to never have to use this data, but if it comes to it, it will be invaluable to protecting our drinking water sources.”

If you would like to make a donation, get involved, or receive more information, contact anna@wserc.org or 527-5307 x204.