Texoma Water Quality and Fracking

Water quality for homeowners with private water wells was discussed in a recent article from H2O Quality Magazine by Marianne R. Metzger, GPG Business Manager, National Testing Laboratories, Ltd.

It is important for all Texoma area residents to be aware of their water sources and water quality in and around the Red River and Lake Texoma. The processes used in “hydro-fracking” or fracking to drill natural gas, and even agricultural land use in our area may somehow contaminate the our lakes, aquifers and water sources.

The article entitled “Gas Drilling & Water Quality – The Legalities” outlines the major points of testing the water and “potential legal ramifications associated with gas drilling”.  The following quotes includes some of the suggestions that were made:

What should you test for? First you will need to determine what the water should be tested for. Each state involved with gas drilling has their own recommendation on what should be tested in private wells, so you should look at what your state recommends. Minimally, you should be testing for the following:

  • Sodium
  • Barium
  • Chloride
  • Bromide
  • Total dissolved solids
  • Foaming Agents
  • Methane
  • Ethane

These are the parameters that would likely change if the fracking fluid somehow contaminated the aquifer. Additionally, one should consider testing for items that are already known to occur int he well like aesthetic contaminants such as iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide and hardness. Documenting the problems that currently exist will protect the homeowner is these problems worsen as a results (sic) the drilling operations. This also means that any samples collected should be taken prior to any treatment equipment. Also consider in addition to the fracking fluids contaminating the aquifer, drilling means more equipment, trucks and traffic which can lead to other environmental incidents including accidental spills and fuel leaks. Having a water analysis prior to the drilling activity which shows there were no volatile organics in the water helps prove that the drilling activities led to the contamination. If you do not test for these types of contaminants, you have no proof that the contaminants weren’t there before any drilling began.

Oil & Gas Companies Responsibilities – Establishing a baseline of water quality for water well owners is not only in the interest of the homeowner, but also the gas driller. Gas companies commonly test drinking water prior to drilling to protect themselves. For example, Chesapeake, on of the largest drillers offers free testing to anyone within a 2,500 foot radius. This is to protect them from homeowners claiming their water went bad when there was already a pre-existing contamination. Chesapeake just recently released some of the water testing data done in PA, OH and WV and the data was alarming. The tests showed that methane was present in 11-25% of well water samples from the various states.

Testing Recommendations – If gas drilling is to occur in your area consider having the water tested. Most state requirements for testing recommends wells within 300-2,500 feed be tested, but wells as far as 2-5 miles away can be effected (sic). Test your well for key indicators of the fracking fluid, and document any known problems. Additionally it is a good idea to document that no volatile organic chemicals exist in the water. If you are within the radius that the gas company is required to test, you should let them perform their analyses, but it is in the best interest of the homeowner to have their own analysis done. Testing should be done at least 60 days prior to drilling and about 30 days after drilling has stopped. Some water quality issues may take time to develop, so testing should be done if there is any noticeable change in color, odor or taste. Homeowners may consider using and in-line TDS meter which could record the TDS levels and when levels exceed a certain threshold an alarm could be triggered indicating there could be a water quality issue. There are many things to take into consideration when testing for legal purposes before things can get difficult to navigate. Your laboratory can be a good source of information for testing drinking water in ares where gas drilling is happening.

Other articles on this blog will provide information about Lab Certification and Chain of Custody and Sample Collection from this article. If you have questions about the water quality for your private well, municipal water systems, water quality or Lake Texoma and Red River drinking water sources and water quality, just say “Hey Culligan Man” by contacting Culligan Texoma 903.465.6644.

Important Links:

Texas Groundwater Protection Committee – Groundwater Contamination

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality – Chemical Analysis of Private Water Wells

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