MONTROSE – As it nears the end of its expected lifespan, the Bureau of Reclamation will be holding three meetings to solicit public input concerning the future of the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit near Bedrock, Colo.
The deep brine injection well is projected to reach the end of its useful life in three to five years under current operation, and the Bureau of Reclamation is seeking public comments to identify and evaluate brine disposal alternatives to replace or supplement the existing well. Initial alternatives include developing a new injection well or using evaporation ponds.
Installed in the mid-1990s, the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Unit has removed an estimated 110,000 tons of salt annually from the Dolores River as its waters passed through the Paradox Valley. Much of the salt is collected in shallow wells along the river and then injected deep into subsurface geologic formations.
“From our perspective, this has worked really well,” Bureau of Reclamation public relations specialist Justyn Hock said in an interview last week. “It makes a big impact in reducing the salt content in the river and improves the water quality downstream.”
Since the unit is nearing the end of its lifespan, Hock says the agency is beginning to contemplate its options on how to move forward with a similar injection unit or something completely different altogether.
“This is a unique project and we have been doing this for a while and its worked great,” she said. “Before we decide to do a new project, we are going to make sure this is still the best way to do it or find out if there is a better way. Two of the options we have right now are installing a new well or building evaporation ponds. We are open to other options if people have ideas.”
While the current injection unit has worked well so far, Hock said one of the main drawbacks of that method is that it causes minor earthquakes deep below the surface but, she said, they are so small people don’t actually feel them.
Meetings will occur across the Western Slope, and will be held on;
• Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Paradox Valley School, 21501 6 Mile Road, Paradox;
• Wednesday, Sept. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express, 1391 S Townsend Ave., Montrose;
• Thursday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. at Colorado Mesa University’s Student Center, 1100 North Ave., Room 221, Grand Junction.
The project will be described and questions will be answered at the meetings; comments may be provided at the scoping meeting, emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Bureau of Reclamation, 2764 Compass Drive, Suite 106, Grand Junction CO 81506. Deadline for comments is November 26.