PAVILLION, Wyo. (AP) -- Funding for a state program providing clean drinking water cisterns to Pavillion-area homeowners with polluted groundwater is dwindling as more residents seek the containers.
The Wyoming Legislature allocated $750,000 to the program in 2012, and about $100,000 of that remains. Meanwhile, eight more households have expressed interest in getting cisterns.
At this rate, money could get tight, said Keith Clarey, program manager for the Wyoming Water Development Commission.
"We're going to have to evaluate if we have to add some funding," Clarey told the Riverton Ranger ( http://bit.ly/1ldTkGr ).
Construction of a water loading station began this month, and Clarey said he expects the first cisterns to be installed the second week of January.
State officials continue to investigate how oil and gas development in the area might have caused the pollution. Homeowners living amid dozens of Encana-owned gas wells say their water turned foul around the time that hydraulic fracturing picked up about eight years ago.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 theorized that fracking - the petroleum industry practice of pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into wells to crack open deposits - might have played a role.
The EPA has since handed over the lead of the pollution investigation to the state. EPA officials say they stand by their findings.
Originally, $460,000 was budgeted to build 19 cisterns for households that signed up in the first phase of the project. Another $100,000 was set aside to construct the water loading station.
Bids in November to build those pieces came in higher than expected. An additional $73,000 was authorized for the work, bringing the total contracted to $633,000.
Meanwhile, the Water Development Commission authorized $11,000 to reimburse a landowner who already had a cistern installed. That leaves $106,000 for the eight remaining households - and enrollment in the program remains open.
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