John Fenton’s water went bad about six years ago. “Our water well’s only 12 years old,” he says. “We drilled it when we built the house… then it started to change and [get] bubbly with gas.” Around that same time, other residents in the nearby town of Pavillion began complaining of changes in their water, and shortly after, started noticing health problems. Many in the town wondered if local oil and gas development, as well as hydraulic fracturing was to blame.
Pavillion is within the boundaries of the Wind River Reservation and is mainly a farming and ranching community. “To the south of where we live there’s a big sandstone ridge—really neat spires and arches,” says Fenton. “And to the north of us is the Owl Creek Mountains, really a pretty area.”
The area’s also rich in oil and gas, which means right smack in the middle of that idyllic farming picture is a massive concentration of oil and gas wells operated by Canadian energy company, EnCana. “Every window, every door, every porch you look off of there’s a giant production tank that’s 20 feet tall,” says Fenton. “There’s a well head, and there’s a big production pad that’s stained with oil and spills.”
Around the same time the water started going weird in Pavillion, EnCana started increasing oil and gas production, and residents began noticing things like intense headaches, loss of smell and taste, memory problems and respiratory issues.
Read more here at Indian Country Today.
1st Place Environmental Story – NAJA Award information here.