The City of Longmont is located on the western edge of the Greater Wattenberg Field (pdf map 1) (GWF), where there continues to be an increasing interest in development of new oil and gas wells. At the present time, over 24,000 wells sites currently exist.
The City of Longmont owns various parcels (pdf map 2) of land in Weld County where oil and gas leases (pdf map 3) existed on the property prior to the property acquisition by the City. The City has not entered into any new oil and gas leases on City owned property following the acquisition of any of the properties. In addition, there are a total of 10 existing oil and gas wells on City owned property that existed at the time the City acquired the property.
The City has been contacted by oil and gas developers about the potential of drilling wells on the City owned property where the developers either own the mineral interests or they have an existing oil and gas lease that preceded the City acquiring the property.
In Colorado, oil and gas wells are permitted and regulated by the State of Colorado through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), which is a division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
At the November 15, 2011 City Council meeting, general information was presented to help educate City Council and the community on the issue of oil and gas exploration primarily as it relates to City owned property in Weld County. Presentations were made by staff, as well as representatives from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, and Longmont's special legal counsel on oil and gas issues.
The presentations were informational and educational only, and no action was taken or decisions made at that meeting.
The following links will provide the information presented at the meeting and a video of the November 15, 2011 City Council Meeting.
Special presentation of oil and gas issues to the Board of Environment Affairs, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and Water Board
A special public presentation on the oil and gas industry's impact to the Longmont community was held on Wednesday, December 7, 2011 in the City Council Chambers. The presentation was very similar to the information presented to the City Council on November 15 (see above). Unlike the Council meeting, the public did not have an opportunity to speak at this presentation but there was an opportunity to submit written comments to be shared with City Council members.
The following link is to information staff received from research of public records by residents living along the west side of Union Reservoir. They have included a cover letter along with a series of correspondence regarding contamination in the vicinity of the Rider Family Trust well which is located on private property north of Trail Ridge Middle School. The information includes an enforcement action taken by the COGCC against TOP operating dated September 17, 2008 requiring remediation of the contamination. It appears that the site remediation is not yet completed based upon the most recent reports on file with the COGCC.
Council will recall that the City closed on the Bogott and Sherwood properties at the end of 2010. As part of the City’s diligence to acquire the properties, Terracon Consultants was hired to conduct a limited site investigation as part of the overall phase 1 environmental audit which the City routinely completes with each property acquisition. The site investigation consisted of drilling 13 soil borings along with soil and water sampling and testing in the vicinity of each of the existing oil and gas wells on both properties. The investigation identified two well borings where the levels of gasoline and diesel fuels exceeded the COGCC soil standards, and one test boring well on the Sherwood property where the levels of benzene was reported at .55 mg/kg in a soil sample, which exceeds the COGCC standard of .17 mg/kg. Benzene was also reported in a ground water sample from the same test hole at 110 micrograms/liter, which is above the COGCC regulatory standard of 5 micrograms/liter. Staff is working with the operator, the COGCC to remediate the contamination. Staff is also conferring with Terracon to conduct similar site investigations at all oil and gas wells on City property.
Combined board meeting (Board of Environmental Affairs, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Water Board) - Discussion of oil and gas issues, update on oil and gas regulation revisions, and polling survey of public and board members
City Council – Consideration of Resolution R-2012-67 regarding a municipal election to be held Tuesday, November 6, 2012, concerning an amendment to the Longmont home rule charter to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, and the storage in open pits or disposal of solid or liquid wastes created in connection with hydraulic fracturing in the City of Longmont. (Agenda item 9F)
City Council – Introduction and 1st reading of an ordinance regarding mineral leases and property purchase agreements with TOP Operating Company
October 23, 2012
City Council – 2nd reading and public hearing on an ordinance regarding mineral leases and property purchase agreements with TOP Operating Company
Oil and gas regulations update
The City’s oil and gas regulations were originally adopted in 2000. On December 20, 2012, City Council directed staff to initiate work on updating the regulations. The initial draft of the oil and gas regulations amendments was presented to the Planning and Zoning Commission on February 15, 2012. The City Council reviewed the amendments at public meetings on February 21, 2012, April 17, 2012, May 8, 2012, May 22, 2012, July 10, 2012 and July 17, 2012 (see meeting links above). City Council approved Ordinance 2012-25 regarding oil and gas regulations amendments on July 17, 2012 (Agenda item 8A)
The following table provides a summary of the City’s prior regulations and the amendments approved with Ordinance O-2012-25
Oil and gas regulations litigation
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) filed a complaint for declaratory relief on July 30, 2012 in Boulder County District Court regarding certain aspects of the adopted amendments to the City’s oil and gas regulations.
Parties interested in following this case can access court documents through the LexisNexis website (requires a subscription): [LINK]
Existing oil and gas well monitoring, testing and remediation
The City has investigated existing oil and gas wells on City owned property. In addition, the existing privately owned Rider 1 well on the Rider property has been subject to monitoring, testing, and remediation for a number of years. The following documents include monitoring, testing and remediation efforts on wells within the City or owned by the City.
Designation of outside activity areas by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC)
The COGCC has the authority to designate outside activity areas for protection from oil and gas activities. At the City’s request, the Sandstone Ranch baseball and softball fields were approved by the COGCC as designated outside activity areas in 1991. At the time the soccer/multi-use fields were not included in the COGCC’s designation because construction was not complete on the fields. The City recently applied to the COGCC to expand the Sandstone Ranch designated outside activity area and to have the Union Recreation Area approved as a designated outside activity area. The COGCC approved the designations on August 20, 2012.
Negotiation of master contract, operator agreement, and mineral leases and property acquisition agreements with TOP Operating Company
The City negotiated a master contract and operator agreement with TOP Operating Company for oil and gas well and production facility locations, oil and gas leases, and property acquisition. The contract and agreement were approved by City Council on July 17, 2012.
On August 28, 2012 City Council passed Resolution R-2012-67 regarding a municipal election to be held Tuesday, November 6, 2012, concerning an amendment to the Longmont home rule charter to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, and the storage in open pits or disposal of solid or liquid wastes created in connection with hydraulic fracturing in the City of Longmont. (Agenda item 9F)