All of the residents in and around Flagstaff should be paying close attention to -- and outraged by -- the exploratory testing being done on and around the Red Gap Ranch. The company doing the testing, Desert Mountain Energy, is looking for helium and hydrocarbon resources. If the seismic testing provides them positive enough results, they will begin drilling test holes in the proximity of the RGR. Mining, including fracking, will likely follow.
Fracking uses a huge amount of water and an array of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals as well as an acid stimulation process used to dissolve sandstone. The potential to contaminate the Coconino Aquifer as well as the Little Colorado Watershed is imminent. For those not familiar, the Coconino Aquifer is the major source of water for this entire region.
The RGR was purchased by the city, mostly by bond, as a future source of water for Flagstaff. Some will contend that allowing DME complete access for seismic testing was a good idea, because it would provide the city information about the location and quantity of water. This is information that the city should have had a long time ago and can acquire for a minimal fee. The covert nature of the negotiations between DME and city staff illustrate a complete disregard for Mayor Evans, the City Council and the public.
A more proper course of action by city staff when approached by the DME would have been:
A) to allow DME access to the RGR only what is required by law,
B) to immediately reach out to other water distribution companies and users in the region to form an "active management area" in order to have more clout to protect our water resource in the interest of public health, and
C) to research in earnest what procedural, legislative and legal action can be taken to stop any mining company from fracking anywhere near the Coconino Aquifer.
Since city staff appear to be perplexed, City Council needs to pressure them into taking some meaningful action to slow down this idiocy. We can hope that a new city manager is selected and seated soon, and that this person has enough common sense and ambition to address this important issue as a top priority.