Aurora OKs $9.5 million fracking water deal with Anadarko

"I don't want to know in 10 years that someone in my family has cancer or something else because it was more important to make a dollar selling this water to this company," said Zully Salazar, a Denver resident who lives in the Green Valley Ranch community.

AURORA | Anadarko Petroleum Corp. will purchase $9.5 million worth of “used” water from Aurora for its oil and gas drilling operations across the state, under a contract approved by Aurora City Council members on July 9.

The deal, which some Aurora residents heavily criticized at the meeting, was approved on a vote of  8 to 3 with council members Debi Hunter Holen, Renie Peterson and Molly Markert opposed.

Despite regular protests against fracking, including dozens of critics at a city council meeting Monday night, Aurora lawmakers approved a deal to sell $9.5 million worth of “used” Aurora water for outstate oil and gas fracking.

About 35 residents from Aurora and surrounding cities attended the meeting to condemn Aurora council members for selling water to the company, and many of them spoke at the meeting. Four people spoke in support of the deal.

Several people who disapproved of the agreement between the city and Anadarko have also spoken against hydraulic fracturing within city limits. Before council members voted, they said they were concerned about the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, and thought the city’s water should be kept for its residents in times of need.

“I don’t want to know in 10 years that someone in my family has cancer or something else because it was more important to make a dollar selling this water to this company,” said Zully Salazar, a Denver resident who lives in the Green Valley Ranch community.

Paula Nicholas, a professor at the Community College of Aurora, said she knows about 1,000 people who oppose hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and feel like their voices aren’t being heard.

“It seems like no matter how many people are here, it never effects the change,” she said. “It seems like a foregone conclusion what the decision is tonight.”

The water lease was negotiated in an executive session in June, and July 9 was the first time the public has had a chance to comment on the issue before council members voted.

Councilman Bob LeGare said council members will have a discussion on July 23 about how to get information about future deals like this out to the public sooner.

The people who spoke in support of the deal included Tom Coker, president of the Heritage Eagle Bend Metropolitan District 2, and Kevin Hougen, president of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s an amazing financial offer for us to use our used water as an asset,” Hougen said. He said he represented the business community, which included more than 1,200 members representing more than 250,000 employees. “This is a smart business deal and there’s no reason the city of Aurora should not go through with the water sale to Anadarko,” Hougen said.

Anadarko is planning to pay Aurora Water to use 1,500 acre feet of “effluent” water per year over five years. The company will be paying four times the market rate for the city’s effluent water, or water that has already been used and treated that would otherwise flow downstream and out of the state.

The water is sanitary but not potable or made available for public use. That equals to about $1,200 per acre foot, whereas the market rate is about $350 per acre foot.

John Christiansen, a spokesman for Anadarko, said the company is looking to lease water for its drilling operations in the Wattenberg field, a sprawling oil and gas field along the northern Front Range.

The agreement is called a water “lease” because under Colorado law, Anadarko is obtaining the ability to use the water over the 5 year term of the lease, but ownership of the water rights remain with Aurora, said Aurora Water Spokesman Greg Baker. The city regularly leases water when they do not have the ability to utilize it at any particular time, but by city charter, cannot sell their water rights, Baker said.

Council members Melissa Miller, Bob LeGare, Barb Cleland, Bob Broom, Brad Pierce, Marsha Berzins and Bob Roth and Mayor Steve Hogan approved the deal.

“I think this is a great deal for Aurora taxpayers,” Miller said.

Peterson said she’s worried that this contract will set a precedent, and soon the city will be selling potable water to Anadarko as well.

“We can say ‘no, you can’t have our water,’ and then they’ll have to truck it in from somewhere else and someone else can sell them the water,” Peterson said.

Reach reporter Sara Castellanos at 720-449-9036 or

  • Gouko787

    “Non paritisan City Council” votes along party lines.

    When you elect council members who have dedicated their lives to profit, not service, this is the type of junk you get. 

    As a native of Aurora, a homeowner and a parent, let me say I will be selling my home and moving to a city that cares about the health of it citizens as soon as possible.
    Too many of the city council members are there for the wrong reasons.

    • Gofastgo

      I’ll bet you’re for tax breaks for solar panels and windmills, right?

      • Gouko787

        Yes.  At some point we will have no oil left to extract. 
        It would be nice to have advanced some technology besides burning plant matter.

        They are far less damaging to our biology and our ecosystem.

        FYI – being against fracking near water supplies, cities and other sensative areas due to the poor record of oil companies does NOT imply I am for eliminating all fossil fuel usage.

        Are you so concerned about the OIl and Gas companies profit margins you are willing to see peoples’ health be affected?
        Are you oppossed wind and solar technology?
        Do you live anywhere near an area that will be fracked?

        Are you so blinded by FOX news and your love of the GOP that you would ignore science and reason for profit and spite?

        Ignorance is bliss, untill you or someone you love ends up with cancer.

        • Your Neighbor

          “Are you so blinded by FOX news and your love of the GOP that you would ignore science and reason for profit and spite?”

          Wow – didn’t take you long to get spun up to the leftist script, did it?  Oooo . . . Fox news, profit – might as well throw in all the usual demons, right?

          In case you haven’t noticed, oil and gas drilling operations have been going on for decades in Colorado.  The net difference in fracking is miniscule – especially when using secondary use water supplies.  I haven’t seen people, kids, dogs, and butterflies dropping all around me because of fossil fuel production.  Nor have I seen the sky falling.  Cancer?  . . . your biggest fear should be sun exposure at the mile-high altitude while your are out hugging trees.

          I swear – if there aren’t conspiracies and threats in your lives, you have to go out and invent them.

          • Gouko787

            So does Fox News not defend and propogandize regarding oil companies and fracking?
            Does the GOP not seem to be in the pocket of the oil and gas industries?

            In case you haven’t notices, horizantal hydrologic fracturing in a new process and has NOT been occuring in Colorado for decades.  Miniscule is a subjective term.  Many of the toxins in fracking fluid are toxic at miniscule levels.  There is no such thing as secondary water.  There is only water.  When it is gone, it is gone.

            We shall see if there is any affect on life and the environment.  The sad news is, if I am wrong, we all live on just fine.  But if you are wrong how many people will it effect? 

            your biggest fear should be sun exposure at the mile-high altitude while your are out hugging trees.
            I swear – if there aren’t conspiracies and threats in your lives, you have to go out and invent them.
            Wow – didn’t take you long to get spun up to the rightest script, did it?

            In the past, asbestos, lead paint, radiactive waste, xrays, microwave radiation and other substances and practices were OK too.  No one was dropping dead, at first,  Funny how time reveals the flaws in our logic.

            How be we get together and I can serve you a nice glass of safe fracking water while we discuss the topic further.

          • Weld resident

             “…especially when using secondary use water supplies.” 
            Wrong:  that water will be removed from the normal hydrological cycle.  It will most likely be pumped into a deep underground injection well, never to be used again, because it will be so contaminated.  This is a very different scenario from water used for agriculture or municipal use, and we all need to be cognizant of these facts and consider how we use our very limited water supplies in the west.

        • ZillaCo

          Always interesting that people rush to the negative about “those greedy oil companies”. Check the facts, oil companies make on average $.08 of profit per gallon of gas. The government taxes that same gallon at a rate of $.29. Who is the greedy entity?

          Oh, and by the way, as a percentage of revenue, only 2 oil companies are in the top 20 in net profits. Why aren’t you calling out Apple, Microsoft, Ford and IBM for thie terribly greedy practices?

          • Gouko787

            I will accept your stated facts about $.08 profit as the old standard.  My concern on profits is in regard to blocking, ignoring and changing laws that would protect the environment (that inculdes you and me) so that more profit can be earned.  I am no fan of our corrupted government, but will you aknowledge that the oil and gas companies are paying large sums to politicians to influence the law?

            I am not calling out other corporations that are guilty of things such as off shoring, child labor and immoral practices beacuse it is not relevant to the article.

            Funny how some people rush to defend companies because it suits there political beliefs,  Did you decide fracking was ok then find facts to defend that, or did you look at the facts, then form your opinion?

    • Gork57

       I agree 100%, Gouko. This whole “nonpartisan” thing is nothing but a sham. It should have been thrown out a long time ago. Aurora is run by right-wing Republicans, and has been for years. They never met a tax giveaway they didn’t like, and are very creative when it comes to making giant deals behind the public’s back.

      This water thing is just the latest example. Very little information about it has been reported in the Metro area media, so no doubt many Aurorans don’t even know this has happened. Water is perhaps the most important resource any of us use–you would think something like this would get lots of attention.

      Alas, if we citizens of Aurora don’t force them to do otherwise, the city administration will continue selling us down the river.

  • imahead

    so we can expect tax refunds now?

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  • RB

    Isn’t the ‘effluent’ water used by farmers, ranchers, and others downstream?  Once the frackers get ahold of it, the water can not be reused because it is contaminated with heavy metals, salt and radioactive materials.  Flowback has to be injected into deep, underground wells.  I don’t understand the Council’s decision.

    • Cammy

      Think maybe it was the dollar signs they saw prior to the vote.  Aurora must have SO MUCH water for residents, for parks, greenbelts, golf courses AND to sell.  Never thought we had so much, did you?

  • Beasbyte

    Sorry imahead- no tax rebate, even though Council Member Berzins indicated that our rates wouldn’t go up because of this lease. Time will tell if that’s the case.
    I believe some of the staff and council members believe that water from the fracking operations can be “treated”, however to treat the toxic water from their gas wells would probably cost quite a bit more than the measly $1,200 per acre foot.  That is if Metro Waste could even treat it to be “consumeable” again.  My thought is that it can’t, especially if there’s other contaiminants beyond the oil companies toxins (for example radioactive materials since some of the drilling is proposed for areas that were previously Lowery bombing areas).
    Beyond the obvious environmental concerns of air, land and water pollution- let’s hope Anadarko can at least be honest in their accounting and reporting of their water useage- yeah that’s right the fox will be gaurding the henhouse (or watershed)!

    • Billgeo

      frac water can sometimes be reused and any water can be treated, it just costs money.  Frac water would not be so bad but with oil and gas in it it more problematic.  Our water standards are generally based on dilution…consumable means dilutable.  Waste water plants do not magically create drinkable water but they do dump non-potable water into rivers and towns downstream intake this water and treat it with holding ponds, flocculants and chlorine. That is how it works.

  • Kiowa09

    How can they “lease” a resource that will never be recovered?

  • Harley’s Mom

    I believe the more neighborly thing to have done would have been to share that water with farmers and ranchers who are in dire need of water. why does Aurora need to be so greedy and selfish….Shame on you Aurora, believe me you are not voting for me….why should I vote for you???

    • ZillaCo

      The average farm in Colorado (growing corn, as an example) requires between 1,300 and 1,800 ace feet of water per year. This lease is for 1,500 acre feet per year. So, even if there was a legal method to accomplish the water transfer (which there is not), and if there was infrastructure to move it (which there is not) and an equitable way to determine who would get this subsidy (again, nothing in place), Aurora could affect only ONE of the hundreds of farmers who are suffering right now.

  • Flgator

    The bottomline is that the fracking is going to happen. Any of you who believe that if Aurora did not sell the water the fracking would  stop need to pay better attention. Aurora did the right thing. And yes it will keep our water rates down.

    • Gouko787

      The question is WHY?

      Why is fracking “going to happen”?

      Because the Oil and Gas companies have prepaid our elected officials from the bottom up.

      Curious how eliminating a portion of a resource from the system forever (if we are lucky) will keep prices down in the long run.  Basic supply and demand would state other wise.

      Greed Oppression and Profit (GOP) are the new Life, Liberty and Justice.

  • Bill

    Sounds like a deal.  Why wouldn’t you sell waste water that can’t be used by residents.  Would you all like to make up the difference in more taxes? Plus oil and gas employs folks in Colorado and gas production in state lowers the price we pay for utilities.  Why is there any negativity here in CO, we have been producing oil and gas here for 100 years and it has been good for us.  Why are we following NY media hype against fracking? Can’t we think for ourselves.

    • Beasbyte

      We do think for ourselves and we think a gas well even if it doesn’t leak or the contractors don’t accidently spill 1000 gallons of toxic materials in your backyard or 350 feet from your 8 year old daughter’s school is not a good idea in suburan areas or anywhere that people live. Bill I bet you don’t have a couple of oil wells being drilled in your backyard.
      Have you ever been in Texas around Houston on the Southwest side where it smells like your’re driving through a gas hose? Is that really what you want for Aurora?

      • Billgeo

        so instead of a balanced and reasonable development approach you would have Aurora take a stand against oil and gas drilling by Anadarko.  I would like Aurora to not allow any SUVs to driven on its roads cause they are a hazard when they crash, and they use too much gas, oh and while they are at it I personally think they should ban methanol (a carcinogen and bad actor) which is used in all car windshield washer fluid as well as herbicide that is used like water all over the place.

      • ARealist

        If Pasadena (SE side) was so bad, why do people still ive there? I bet the same people that b**** and moan about fracking are the same people who whine about $3.20 gasoline. Oh, I live in Houston…. And our city is thriving when cities in California lose their existence. Why? Bc oil and gas brings jobs … A difficult idea to explain to liberals who would rather be greedy with such a plentiful resource than to see a healthy economy. Just don’t vote for liberals and expect to see economic growth anytime soon (just look at healthcare)

  • Gork57

    A prior report in the Denver Post’s online page said the City Council was considering rebating the funds the city will receive from this “deal” to Aurora water users. I see nothing here about that, or any information at all about where this money will be going. Is it just going to disappear into Aurora coffers? I’m going to have to email my council member to see about this question.

    I am opposed to the deal, and think that fracking should be scrutinized and regulated much more closely than it is right now. I should have attended the council meeting and voiced my opinion–and so should many others who opposed it. The tiny number of people who showed up is a real disgrace (I’m guilty), but part of it is how little attention was paid to it by the media.

    The city is far too secretive when it comes to making deals like this with big private entities. It seems like the only time they go directly to the people now is when they make budget cuts such as the library closure debacle a few years ago. They eliminated several key neighborhood libraries, then asked Aurora voters to raise their property taxes to keep them open, as if to say “it’s your fault they were closed.”

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  • angelo

    The real threat here is all the toxic glue that is currently holding these morons Obama bumper stickers to the back of their subarus

  • Brenda

    Left or right, the environment doesn’t stop OR start with either party….it is truly non-partisan & we hould ALL care about what we are doing that affects each & every one of us. To those that don’t believe fracking is bad for us, I implore you to EDUCATE yourself with data-REAL scientific data-& then decide if this is a road WE (yes WE, because it is ALL of our world, NOT just the politicians & multi-national corporations world) should persue.
    In response to increasing off-post contamination, the Army Chemical Corps considered a proposal early in 1960 to sink a well two miles deep for disposal of chemical wastes at RMA. U.S. Representative Byron Johnson of Colorado told the Denver Post that “the plan is to pump waste liquids down the well under pressure and dispose of them permanently with no leakage into ground water near the surface.” While the well could not remedy the already contaminated water supply surrounding the Arsenal, it could “eliminate the possibility of future contamination from continuing operations at the Arsenal.”
    By June 1961, a Pressure Injection Disposal Well was under construction. Completed in 1962, the well would eventually pump approximately 175 million gallons of treated waste material to a depth of more than 12,000 feet into the earth.
    Throughout the summer of 1964, area newspapers ran stories reporting that native and migratory waterfowl were dying after exposure to polluted Arsenal lakes. It was reported in April that the Colorado Game, Fish, and Parks Commission had voted to file “a strong objection with the Secretary of Defense and Shell Chemical Company protesting heavy duck losses on insecticide-contaminated lakes at Rocky Mountain Arsenal.”
    By the time American combat troops officially entered Vietnam, Arsenal officials had to contend with another possible byproduct of their waste disposal efforts. During mid- to late-1965, a series of earthquakes rocked the Denver area. According to the December 19, 1965, Denver Post, “Deep well pumping at Rocky Mountain Arsenal [may] be responsible for the Denver area earthquakes…” A theory supported by many of the nation’s geologists held that the fluids being pumped into the ground via the Pressure Injection Disposal Well since 1962 acted as a lubricant, allowing large blocks of stone beneath the earth to shift more easily. While no definitive cause for the earthquakes could be formulated, the Arsenal shutdown all pumping activities in February 1966.^^From the GOVERNMENTS (RMA) OWN website, lol!…& more….As earthquakes rumbled across Oklahoma, media reports revealed the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey had long ago concluded that injecting water into deep underground rock formations caused earthquakes.The U.S. Army’s Rocky Mountain Arsenal tried in the 1960s to get rid of liquid waste by injecting it deep into the ground. From 1962 to 1966, the RMA injected salty waste water containing metals, chlorides and organic waste into a 12,000-foot-deep well, but discontinued the practice because they discovered it was causing earthquakes.”Injection had been discontinued at the site in the previous year once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established,” stated the 1990 Earthquake Hazard Associated with Deep Well Injection – A Report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The magnitudes 5.6 and 4.7 earthquakes in Oklahoma last weekend set off a new flurry of speculation that hydrofracking for gas and oil was causing earthquakes in that state. Oklahoma averaged about 50 earthquakes a year until a couple years ago. Gas and oil moguls began widespread hydrofracking in the state, and, in 2010, Oklahoma experienced 1,047 earthquakes….some interesting reading material:…however-left, right, circle, square…whatEVER….shouldn’t we ALL care about the state of OUR environment for our health, our childrens health, the health of animals, plants & ALL life on this great big blue ball? WE NEED the earth to survive, but most DEFINITELY, it doesn’t need us!!Should we have to suffer negative name calling, derogatory terms SIMPLY because some put people & the planet, our communities & neighbors BEFORE multi-nationals & their profit? This is SOOOO high school & shows the, ummm, well, IQ of those that do so….extremely childish, very immature. But then, that is exactly how conformity has beaten the individual down & made y’all into party spouting automatons, unable to actually DO any REAL thinking for yourselves about WHAT is best for YOU & YOURS, lol!To those that spout “their” party’s mantras….WHO IS YOUR MASTER,OVERSEER, who is your LORD? Can ya THINK for yourself, or, like MOST, ya need others to do the thinking & make the decisons for ya, huh, huh!! Ignorance is bliss, eh??
    The planet canNOT be for sale….there is only ONE & it is NOT some peoples private world to treat as they want at the expense of the rest of us!!!….I call BS on that & say it is high time we stop the wholesale destruction of our health & our planets health, for which WE depend on!

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  • rain

    Greed that’s all I can say about Aurora!!!!