Drilling Sites Restored
Colorado regulations require Pagosa Verde to have a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) for our geothermal exploration field activities in Pagosa Springs. The project’s SWMP primarily addressed mitigating impacts from potential stormwater discharges from construction / drilling activities and a reclaiming the site post construction. With the guidance of Ecosphere Environmental Services, www.ecopshere-services.com, Pagosa Verde designed and implemented stormwater mitigation and site reclamation for each of the four drilling sites.
Why do all this? As the saying goes, “we all live downstream.” Communities use surface water for their drinking supply must pay much more to clean up polluted water than clean water. Polluted water hurts the wildlife in creeks, streams, rivers and lakes. For example, dirt from erosion and potential pollution from site activities can impact fish habitat and overall water quality. Therefore, laws require control of construction and post-construction site runoff.
Stormwater plans require (1) run-on control and diversion structures to prevent flow into the construction area from a 25-year, 24-hour storm, (2) a run-off control system to collect runoff from a 25-year, 24-hour storm and control run-off from a 100-year, 24-hour storm. Many towns and counties also have guidelines in place to minimize site discharge such as vehicle tracking and materials handling and spill prevention, and they conduct regular inspections. Sites are under permit coverage until they are “finally stabilized”, as defined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, www.www.colorado.gov/cdphe.
After a project is completed, reclamation is performed to stabilize a site. Reclamation consists of “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) such as straw wattles, erosion blankets, slope drains and silt fencing. Other BMPs include grading, water bars, riprap and check dams. Re-seeding an area with native grasses or vegetation is a critical BMP. During construction, sites must be checked within 24 hours of a rainstorm. Once the site is in “interim reclamation, it must be checked on a monthly basis until it has been stabilized.
For our drilling sites, reclamation activities were initiated in the spring. Initially erosion control BMPs such as straw wattles were used to direct run off away from steep slopes. We re-graded and leveled all the sites and, where appropriate, reconstructed existing diversion ditches. Finally, Pagosa Verde planted native vegetation and we are actively monitoring its progress and performing weed control activities. Once mature vegetation is in place, sites will be inspected and approved for release from our permit. Committed to a sustainable future, Pagosa Verde is as committed to clean energy as it is to clean water.