Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report Page: 95 of 222
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Geothermal Exploration and Development
Regardless of the nature of land ownership, all geothermal operators must
comply with the requirements of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission
(OGCC). Pursuant to the Colorado Geothermal Act (Colo. Rev. Stat., 1973, 34-70-
101-110), the Commission regulates, through its permitting system, all aspects of dril-
ling observation, exploratory, and development wells. It must be emphasized, however,
that this system is closely tied to the administration of water rights by the State
Engineer and Groundwater Commission. No well may be drilled without a finding that
water rights held by others will not be injured.
18.104.22.168 Oil and Gas' Conservation Commission
An operator must obtain a permit from OGCC before drilling, deepening,
re-entering or operating a geothermal well in the State of Colorado. Information which
the Commission requires the applicant to provide includes: description of the lease; a
plat map showing the exact location of the well; depth of the proposed well; effect on
the land surface; plans to avoid land subsidence, air and water contamination and noise
excess; geothermal brine disposal and by-product recovery; and description of the
The Commission retains a bond of $10,000 for each well or $50,000 for all
of the applicant's wells to assure compliance with well plugging and reporting regula-
tions. The state does not require a bond if the operator posts a bond with the BLM on a
federal lease (Coe & Forman, 1980). The operator must comply with all other OGCC
requirements, however. In addition, where the lease is on federal land, the lessee must
submit a Plan of Operations to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Approval of this
Plan, which must contain much of the information required by the state, is needed
before all but preliminary exploration and casual use activities are begun.
22.214.171.124 Division of Water Resources, Office of the State Engineer
The OGCC submits applications to drill geothermal wells to the Colorado
Division of Water Resources for review before deciding whether to issue the drilling
permit. The Division's purpose in reviewing the application is to approve only those
geothermal operations which will not adversely affect existing water rights.
Water rights in Colorado are established under the doctrine of appropria-
tion. The water rights of a user who perfects his rights to such use under the applicable
statutes are protected from actions by junior appropriators detrimental to his use. The
Division of Water Resources administers the statutory scheme for perfecting water
rights under the doctrine.
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Hewlett, E.M.; Erickson, M.V.; Ferguson, C.D.; Sherwood, P.B.; Boswell, B.S.; Walter, K.M. et al. Commercial production of ethanol in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. Final Report, report, July 1, 1983; United States. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc874948/m1/95/: accessed April 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.