Northern Plains Resource Council and Department of Natural Resources and Conservation stop illegal water sale
Citizen action stops oil driller’s illegal water use
After local residents and members of Northern Plains Resource Council alerted the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC), the state agency put a stop to illegal water use by oil drillers near Belfry.
According to state water law, Ron Wolfe, the gravel pit owner was illegally selling water to the Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for the new well. DNRC officials in Billings said the gravel pit owner does not have a water right or a permit to sell the water that naturally fills the pit.
“The DNRC was great to work with,” said Mechelle Harper, a nearby resident and member of Carbon County Resource Council. Harper had witnessed several water trucks taking water from the gravel pit. “They really appreciated our work to contact them, and they were able to take care of this right away. They let Ron Wolfe know that he was illegally taking water because he did not have a permit, and that he could be taking water away from farmers and people in the area.”
Bonnie Martinell, an organic farmer near the well site, also had taken photos of the illegal water use.
The ECA was also informed that this water source was illegal, and that no water could be taken from that pit moving forward.
In other drilling news, the federal BLM responded to calls from local residents, and members of Stillwater Protection Association and Northern Plains and deferred a mineral lease sale at Dean scheduled for October 2014.
The Billings BLM office is currently working on a new Resource Management Plan (RMP) that will dictate how areas such as Stillwater County are developed. The proposed lease parcel includes the unincorporated town of Dean as well as a state designated “source water protection area” and trout recovery habitat. These will be addressed in the new RMP.
The RMP is expected to come out in 2015, so the Dean parcel is expected to be back up for lease at that time.
–Northern Plains Resource Council