The City of Brighton City Council voted at last night’s city council meeting to continue the public hearing on amendments to the city’s municipal code to establish the requirements for issuance of a city permit for oil and gas development to the Jan. 6 city council meeting. Staff recommended the continuation to allow additional time for consideration of the draft amendments by representatives of the oil and gas industry and the Brighton community.
The City of Brighton has been studying oil and gas related issues for nearly three years in preparation for an update to its existing, yet outdated regulations. During this time, the city has hosted numerous presentations from experts on oil and gas drilling, visited several operating oil and gas facility sites, and purposefully invited and involved representatives from the State and local oil and gas operators to participate in the drafting process. With the recent enactment of new regulations by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) governing such matters as setbacks and air quality, together with the ever changing developments within the industry, City staff, in consultation with the Planning Commission and City Council has taken particular care to draft amendments that address current issues. The regulations as drafted set forth a specific process to permit the development of oil and gas resources with reasonable assurances for residents and businesses that address factors such as water protection, noise and traffic mitigation and air quality. Recognizing that oil and gas development is an industrial use that, as currently required by the State, must be allowed in all zone districts in the city, the city has crafted the regulations to be consistent with similar constraints of industrial businesses in proximity to other land uses such as homes, businesses or public facilities such as schools. Draft regulations have been shared with representatives of the COGCC, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), and some oil and gas operators who may hold leasehold interests within the city.
In response to serious concerns raised by Brighton regarding the importance of protecting its domestic water supply, the COGCC, on July 28, unanimously adopted a new Order which sets forth specific requirements of the oil and gas industry to protect groundwater in and around Brighton. This special ruling recognized the unusual circumstance that Brighton obtains the majority of its municipal water supply from shallow groundwater wells. The order established buffer zones and best management practices and prevents the drilling of new oil and gas wells within 500 feet of an existing city water well and within 300 feet of any river, stream, lake or ditch which is part of the water supply system for the city. Additional ground water sampling is required within a one-half mile radius from any existing city well and within 500 feet of a river, stream, or lake related to the Brighton water supply. The best management practices (BMP’s) for any new wells within these defined areas require additional measures such as pitless drilling systems, containment of fluids within tanks, berms and containment devices, automated monitoring and shut off capabilities and emergency spill response programs. This order was the culmination of a cooperative effort by city staff, representatives from the COGCC, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and representatives from the oil and gas industry.
A copy of the draft amending ordinance is currently available at www.brightonco.gov/oilandgas. A final draft for city council’s consideration will be posted on Dec. 22. Those wishing to comment on the proposed amendments to the regulations may do so during the public hearing at the Jan. 6 City Council meeting. The city council procedures for participation in a public hearing can be obtained from the Brighton city clerk.