Flammable Water In Colorado Home

A Ft. Lupton couple says they have so much natural gas in their water they can light it on fire. Jesse and Amee Ellsworth say the gas has been leaking into their water well from a nearby gas well for the last six months.

Aimee Ellsworth says their only clue that something was wrong was the pressure of the water. "It crashed, made noises. I thought this isn't normal." She says tests found explosive levels of the gas in her basement, bathroom and by her water well. "I'm jittery all the time" says Ellsworth. Her home is located in a rural area within a half mile of eight natural gas wells.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission says it's tried to find the origin of the leak. Director Dale Neslin says "We've looked at well compilation reports, taken gas samples to look for a match, done pressure testing and we've not been able to find the well that appears to be causing the problem."

The Ellsworths say they approached Noble Energy and Anadarko Petroleum - the two companies that operate the nearby wells - and begged for help. They say the companies initially refused to do anything. But, at the urging of the Oil and Gas Commission, they have now agreed to put in a water treatment system at the home.

Aimee Ellsworth is still worried though. She wonders if there are other homes impacted. "We need to have something done for us, but, we also need to find out how far reaching it is." She says she's developed chronic health problems and is undergoing testing to determine if the natural gas is to blame.

Meantime, the Oil and Gas Commission says it will continue to search for the cause of the leak. It's not the first time natural gas has seeped into a water supply. The Commission says there are about 38-thousand active wells in Colorado and there have been a couple dozen other instances of natural gas leaking into a homeowner's water over the last ten years.
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