He was thirsty the afternoon of May 30, 2008, after he and his wife, Dollie, drove up the dusty, steeply kinked road to their cabin an hour northeast of DeBeque. He went to the sink and filled a glass with water.
"I tipped it up just like this and just started guzzling — like an idiot. I didn't know it was bad until I drank two- thirds of the cup," said the 61-year-old outfitter as he retraced his actions that day.
His throat burned. His head pounded. His stomach hurt. He felt like he was going to suffocate.
Tests would show the water from a spring he has drank from for decades was heavily contaminated with a carcinogenic and nervous system-damaging chemical stew known as BTEX — benzene, toluene, ethylbenzine and xylene. BTEX and other volatile organic compounds come to the surface in the production water from oil and gas wells.
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