Longmont City Council Authorizes Monitoring Air, Water for Possible Oil, Gas Pollutants

March 6, 2019 GMT

Longmont will pay for the sampling and analysis of atmospheric emissions from oil and gas operations near the city, city council decided Tuesday night.

Council members voted unanimously to authorize staff to prepare a contract with Detlev Helmig and his company, Boulder Atmosphere Innovation Research (Boulder A.I.R. LLC), to collect and analyze data at two locations, one near Union Reservoir east of Longmont and the second on the city’s west side.

In another unanimous vote, council approved another year of monitoring the water in Union Reservoir for any evidence of hydraulic fracturing chemicals — as well as for possible future leaks, spills runoffs or other migration of contaminants from oil and gas fracking, drilling or production sites in the area.


The continuation of Union Reservoir water quality monitoring will follow work by E. Michael Thurman of the University of Colorado Center for Environmental Mass Spectrometry, who last year helped perform a baseline study that found no evidence of hydraulic fracturing chemicals in any of five sampling locations in the reservoir.

The first year of Boulder A.I.R. LLC’s Longmont-area regional air quality study — which could last for at least five years — will cost the city an estimated $403,341 for the Union Reservoir site, and $154,905 for the west Longmont site, according to city staff.

Longmont also will pay an estimated $50,000 to install building enclosures to store and shelter equipment and towers and make other improvements to monitoring locations.

The study also will measure greenhouse gases and other emissions from non-oil and gas well sources, such as motor vehicles.

Funding for the air quality study will come from sustainability program funds in the city budget, as well as from Longmont’s oil and gas royalty revenues, according to staff.

Last year’s Union Reservoir water quality study was conducted prior to any horizontal fracking or drilling that might occur deep underneath the bottom of the reservoir from well pads on private property outside the reservoir.

This year’s continuation of Union Reservoir water quality sampling is expected to cost about $150,000, an expense that also will be covered by the city’s oil and gas royalty revenues.

Council on Tuesday heard presentations from Thurman, Helmig and the city’s Public Works and Natural Resources Department before authorizing staff to continue sampling and analyzing Union Reservoir’s water and to contract for the new air quality study.

Prior to the council vote, Karen Dike, a member of Sustainable Resilient Longmont, urged council to “rapidly roll out” the air quality study under what she said was “a good air monitoring proposal.”

Contact Staff Writer John Fryar at 303-684-5211 or jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc