A Naturita company that supplies a road-dust suppressant to Montezuma County produced from oil and gas drilling has fallen out of compliance with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment.
Since 2016, Reams Construction Co. has been supplying the Montezuma County Road Department with treated produced water, a byproduct of the drilling process that brings up saline water from deep underground to the surface.
Use of the so-called fossil water for dust control is regulated and permitted by the state under the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division.
The Reams facility is a drop-off point for drilling companies to dispose of the produced water. The water goes through a treatment system to take out heavy metals, and is then available for counties to purchase. Road departments like it because it’s more affordable than the traditional magnesium-chloride dust-control product.
But after a May 10 inspection by the state’s waste-management division, Reams was found to have fallen out of compliance with regulations, and three deficiencies were listed.
According to a May 25 compliance advisory letter to Reams, the company failed to submit an annual report summarizing analytical testing on the produced water, and did not submit a requested revised beneficial-use plan for the produced-water sold as dust suppressant.
The state also found the company did not adequately label the fossil water to purchasers as required, including on batches sold to Montezuma and Montrose county road and public works departments.
The fossil water label that was supposed to be provided, but wasn’t, should have stated: “This material is concentrated produced water from oil-and-gas wells. It contains sodium and radium at levels much greater than found in commercial road stabilizers and dust suppressants. In addition, this material does not contain any corrosion inhibitors.”
Within a week after the May 10 inspection and deficiencies report, Reams submitted the requested revised Beneficial Use Plan and annual report summarizing the testing of the produced water sold as a dust-suppression product.
At the time of the May 25 letter, the state waste-water management division had not approved Ream’s beneficial use plan, and informed the company it was “not authorized under the regulations to distribute water currently stored in the facilities ponds for off-site beneficial use.”
Citizen watchdog Ellen Foster, of Dolores, brought the issue of Reams’ non-compliance to the Montezuma County commissioners Monday. She urged them to return fossil water they still have, and request a refund, and urged them to stop using the dust-abatement product.
“I’m asking you to err on the side of caution and put the health of the residents of Montezuma County first,” Foster said. “Other products are available. They may be a little more expensive, but the risk of health problems in the future is less.”
The commissioners and the road department manager said the situation would be looked into.
“We should investigate this,” said commissioner Keenan Ertel.
Road manager Rob Englehart reported they currently have an 8,000 gallon supply of the fossil water product. The county began using the product last year as a cost-saving measure because it is one-third the cost of magnesium chloride.
Englehart said the department is in a holding pattern on using the fossil water, pending the outcome of Ream’s non-compliance issue. The state is currently reviewing company’s beneficial-use plan needed to resume sales of the product, and several components of their plan have already been approved, according to health department documents.
“Right now we are not purchasing anymore, and the supply we do have is on hold,” he said.