Landowners upset over EPA’s handover of water study in Pavillion

Jun 21, 2013

Landowners in Wyoming are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency is relinquishing its role in a study that could link hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution.

The State of Wyoming is taking over an investigation of water quality in Pavillion, from the EPA. Encana Oil and Gas has natural gas wells in the area…and the EPA started testing water wells there after residents complained that the water was becoming polluted. The agency released a draft report in 2011, which tentatively linked the contamination to fracking.

Pavillion landowner Louis Meeks says when the EPA came in, it was the first time landowners’ complaints were taken seriously.

“The EPA came out and they did find something. Because before Encana would take samples of mine and it’s non-detect, non-detect, non-detect and then they come in here, the EPA, and then they find stuff what’s going on. But now, who can we trust now?” says Meeks.  

Meeks says his water smells bad and the state didn’t do much when he first complained of unusable water so he doesn’t trust them to carry this study to completion, either.  

“It’s just heartbreaking. Aren’t they thinking about the people? I just got done writing a letter to the EPA two or three weeks and explaining and telling them that something needs to be coming out because people are still in the same mess here. Just like us - you know that we eat on paper plates most of the time at our house?” Meeks says.  

Wyoming will work with the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Department of Environmental Quality, and a third-party expert. They expect to release a final report by September 2014.