"Devastating is the key word. Devastating," says Northwest Landowners Association chairman Troy Coons.
That's how he would describe the impact of a brine spill on a landowner's property. In some instances, a land owner may be unaware the spill has even occurred.
"At the Department of Mineral Resources, it would be in their inventory log of spills.But there isn't a notice that goes out to the property owner. You can research it and find out there was one, but it isn't in the system that it has to be reported to the property owner."
According to the Department of Mineral Resources, it is the company responsible for the spill that is responsible for reporting it to the affected landowner.
"I think there's a miscommunication as to who's responsible for notifying those landowners. And in a lot of parts of our state, we have absentee landowners. So it's harder to notify those landowners when an event happens," says Miranda Meehan, Extension livestock environmental stewardship specialist
After receiving a USDA grant to look at critical issues facing landowners in the state., the NDSU Extension Service decided to focus on brine spills.
Over the next three years, the Extension Service will conduct research projects and do community outreach with oil companies, landowners, and state agencies.
"The landowner has to know their rights and what they have to request when addressing these issues," says Meehan,
To educate landowners, the Extension Service is hosting roundtable discussions to provide information, address concerns, and pinpoint potential solutions. Coons is advocating for better reporting so landowners can stay informed.
"We want to see a change in how the reporting process is done. So there's centralized reporting and a uniform form that would go to the Department of Emergency Services, to the Health Department, and to the Department of Mineral Resources so we have consistent data and consistent reporting," says Coons.
And the conversation will continue.
The Crosby forum is the first in a series of discussions to take place throughout this month. There will be two more held in Killdeer and Stanley.