Wyoming state lawmakers last Friday passed legislation to help bring a permanent solution to potential drinking water problems in the Pavillion, WY, area. This is where two U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test wells have sparked concerns among residents and environmental activists who are opposed to hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

The “Omnibus Water Bill — Construction” was passed unanimously in both houses of the Wyoming legislature. Gov. Matt Mead signed the bill on Tuesday.

The Pavillion East Water Supply Project would make the state Water Development Commission responsible for the rural domestic water supply program, calling for the design and construction of cistern systems, a water loading station and necessary appurtenances to make the project functional. Lawmakers appropriated $750,000 to get the job done.

“This project and the financing plan address a unique situation and shall not be considered by the [water] commission as a precedent for any future project unless expressly approved by the governor and the legislature,” said the bill, which also requires coordination among Mead’s office, the legislature’s select water committee, the state environmental department and the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in implementing the plan.

Legislative action on the lingering local water issue comes as it has been reported that additional testing will be done in Pavillion after chemicals allegedly tied to the fracking of gas wells in the area turned up in two EPA test wells (see Shale Daily, March 1).

Even though no contamination of local drinking water has been confirmed and EPA has said the local water is safe, testing and initial reports last year have cast a pall over the area that is being felt in the economy.