Weld County buys water-testing equipment

GREELEY – Weld County is buying a water-testing device that will give residents with water wells near oil and gas development another opportunity to test their water quality.

The county paid $145,000 for the equipment, which should arrive by the end of the month, county officials said. Residents with wells can get free water testing for as many as 80 chemicals, but would have to pay for more extensive testing.

The purchase comes as residents express concerns about water quality amid active oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing. The drilling technique, also known as fracking, involves pumping water, chemicals and sand into a drilled area to release natural gas from rock.

“We’ve been getting a steady influx of calls requesting this type of testing,´ said Mark Thomas, chemist for the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Oil & Gas Association already offer similar testing, but the county wanted to give residents another option, Thomas said.

Water testing by the county won’t take place for a couple months because officials must acquire certification from the state to conduct testing.

No well has seen contamination by oil and gas development, Thomas said.

“This is a proactive approach to answering the public’s concern or cry that there could be an event,” he said.

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