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WATER CONTAMINATION -- This page is under construction

Water testing kit from Forston Labs

Contamination from oil and gas drilling activities typically raises the conductivity of your water. These ions include barium, chloride, nickel, bromideand potassim. A pH sensor tells you if the acidity of your water is changing. Wells with suspected fracking related contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming and elsewhere have shown a measureable change in the well's acidity. A turbidity sensor used to detect and monitor changes in the cloudiness of your water. These changes can be caused by particulate matter or gas bubbles caused by products such as methane.

According to one article, the C OGCC received thirty eight complaints over the past decade regarding contamination of water wells.

Oil and Gas Regulation: A Guide for Local Governments--

High-profile fracking accidents in Colorado. Click on the map to learn more.

Gas fracking grabs headlines, fills airwaves as Colorado braces for new drilling boom

December 16, 2011

Neslin in the past has told the Colorado Independent that chemical disclosure won't necessarily stop spills and contamination from an industrial process that can include pipeline and holding pond leaks and faulty casing of wellbores. EnCana in the past has been fined heavily for faulty cement jobs in Colorado.

Colorado oil and gas regulators say holding ponds cause much more groundwater contamination than hydraulic fracturing.

8/1/2009 Complainant: Norm Anderson, 22063 CR 42 LaSalle , CO 80645

Complaint:WATER WELL

Complainant is concerned about possible contamination to his water well that he believes may have resulted from a tubing leak at a nearby oil & gas well. Complainant stated that there were bubbles coming up in standing water at the wellhead of the Branch 0-6-23 well operated by Encana approx 1.5 years ago. He said the well was repaired since that time. He installed a new water well in April 2009 and the water from the well bubbles.

8/11/2009 Terracon sampled Mr. Anderson's water well on behalf of COGCC on 8/11/09. Dissolved methane result was 17 mg/L and Toluene was detected @ 12 ug/L. Sample was also sent to Isotech for isotopic composition. Results of isotopic carbon plot well within thermogenic gas range. Based on analytical results the water well appears to have been impacted by a thermogenic gas source.

9/1/2009 Encana checked the bradenhead pressures of surrounding wells and did not find any abnormal pressures .

9/30/2009 All water well owners within one-half mile of Anderson residence were contacted in person, by telephone or mail. Three water well owners asked to have their wells sampled - Nolin, Tollefson and Dupper. A second shallow water well used for irrigation by Mr. Anderson was also sampled. None of the water wells sampled appear to have been impacted by the release that affected Mr. Anderson's water well. Results for dissolved methane were non-detect or < 1 mg/L. No other impacted water wells have been identified.

10/1/2009 All operators with oil & gas wells within half-mile of the Anderson water well were requested to perform bradenhead tests. Test performed on the Eddy Oil Dupper #2 (API #05-123-11848) indicated possible production casing leak. COGCC collected a bradenhead gas sample and submitted to Isotech Laboratories for isotopic analysis. Isotopic results matched the gas in the Anderson water well indicating that the Dupper #2 was the source of impact. NOAV #200222149 issued to Eddy Oil on 11/17/09 for corrective actions including replacement water supply for the Anderson residence and mitigation & monitoring of release.

Resolution: The Dupper #2 well was properly abandoned in February 2010 stopping any additional release of natural gas to the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer. Eddy oil paid Mr. Anderson for the cost of the replacement water well. COGCC sampled the replacement water well and three other water wells within 0.5-miles of the Dupper #2 and found no impacts to any of these wells. COGCC and Eddy Oil reached agreement in August 2010 resulting in an AOC (Reference Cause No. 1V, Order No. 1V-349), whereby a fine in the amount of $46,200 was issued for rule violations associated with the release.

The Case of Mr. Anderson's Contaminated Water Well and the Contamination of the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer

The cement bond log for the oil well that contaminated Mr. Anderson's water well was done in 1984. Is it responsible for COGCC to allow use of wells whose cement integrity hasn't been checked for 27 years?

Incidents where hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause of drinking water contamination

Colorado: In 2001, two families in Silt reported a water well blow-out and contamination of their drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of four nearby natural gas wells owned by Ballard Petroleum, now Encana Corporation. Their drinking water turned gray, had strong smells, bubbled, and lost pressure. One family reported health symptoms they believe are linked to the groundwater contamination.

Colorado: In 2007, the Bounds family in Huerfano County reported a pump house exploded and contamination of drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of nearby wells owned by Petroglyph Energy.

Colorado: In June, 2010, the day hydraulic fracturing began on a nearby gas well in Las Animas County, landowner Tracy Dahl checked his cistern and found approximately 500 gallons of grayish brown murky water where water had previously run clear for years. The Dahls have extensive water testing documentation going back many years, verifying that their water has always been clean and clear. They were told by Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) staff that the water could not be tested for chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing fluid because there is insufficient information about the chemicals used. Three monitor wells on the ranch are now producing methane at an escalating rate.


April 29, 2004

A recent accident at a natural gas well near the Colorado River released levels of the carcinogen benzene nearly 80 times federal safety limits into a Colorado River tributary, and brought renewed attention to an obscure provision in the stalled national energy bill that was included to benefit Halliburton Corp., Vice President Dick Cheney's former employer.

The benzene was detected after a local landowner in Silt, CO, noticed bubbles of methane gas in a section of Divide Creek that runs through his property. According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the gas seep was caused by the improper use of a controversial natural gas drilling technique, known as "hydraulic fracturing" that was pioneered by Halliburton.

"We cited some rules we believe were violated, rules that prevent contamination of fresh water by natural gas," Brian Macke, COGCC deputy director, told the Rocky Mountain News.[1]

After the gas and benzene leak was detected, residents of the area were asked to stop drinking from their water wells, and the gas company shut down all its drilling operations in a two-mile radius. Residents are reportedly receiving bottled water while the gas company monitors levels of contaminants in area water supplies. "This level of benzene indicates a serious problem," Sarah Johnson, of the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment's Water Quality Division, told the Glenwood Springs Post.[2]


GARFIELD COUNTY, COLORADO, West Divide Creek near Silt, CO

September 16, 2004

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. shall be found in violation of Rule 209. failure to prevent the contamination of fresh water by gas, Rule 301., failure to notify the Director when public health or safety is in jeopardy and failure to notify the Director of significant downhole problems or mechanical failure, Rule 317.i., failure to pump cement 20 0' above the top of the shallowest producing horizon, Rule 324A., impacts to water quality, Rule 327., loss of well control and allowing an underground blowout of gas, and Rule 910.a., failure to meet ground water standards in Table 910-1.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, that EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. shall be found to be responsible for the release of Williams Fork Formation gas, benzene, and other hydrocarbon compounds from the Schwartz 2-15B Well resulting in the subsequent impacts to the surface and ground waters of the state and for monitoring and addressing the environmental and public health and safety effects of the release.

Four incidents involving the release of oil and gas chemicals in Colorado

June 2006

* Drilling mud hits natural fracture and "daylights" in stream
* Fracking fluids affect soil and irrigation ditch
* Drilling fluids contaminate drinking water
* Condensate and flowback products foul the air

Test results doubted by West Divide resident

July 31, 2008

Like a flea on top of an elephant, Lisa Bracken says she will keep biting until the elephant sits down. The West Divide Creek resident south of Silt said tha t' s how she plans to approach state regulatory agencies in the wake of test results on orange and black " gunk" Bracken found in June on a 30-40 square-foot area of her property that she remains convinced was forced to the surface by natural gas activity in the area.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said those results found no anomalies with either volatile organic compounds, including cancer-causing benzene, or diesel range organics, which are oil-related hydrocarbons, in the soil samples taken. However, the results noted a result of 9.9 kilograms for diesel range organics, or DRO, and a reporting limit of 5.6 kilograms.

"We do n' t consider this an issue until we see readings in the many hundreds or thousands," said Bob Chesson, environmental specialist with the oil and gas commission. " These were just slightly above the detectable levels ."

Bracken said she wants her groundwater tested for possible contamination, something she said the states of Washington and Alaska always do whenever DRO is found. Colorado does not automatically test groundwater for that contamination, Bracken said. " At the very least, I think they should find out for sure what this stuff is and put in a groundwater monitoring well on our property," Bracken said. " This is just one more instance where the state risks public safety through what is really an experimental drilling process, which is what this is. They know they've had problems out here, but they keep on drilling ."

Fears of tainted water well up in western Colorado


"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.

Prather may be the only victim of oil-and-gas-field contamination to guzzle a glass of toxin-laced water. But last year, there were 206 spills in Colorado connected to or suspected in 48 cases of water contamination. Since 2003, there have been around 300 cases.

State records show BTEX has seeped into water wells when the casings designed to keep oil and gas wells from contaminating groundwater have given way.

Methane, the most common contaminant found in water wells, has blown a pump house off its foundation, forced the evacuation of homes and turned tap water flammable. In Prather's part of the country, a Garfield County hydrogeologic study shows chloride is rising in many springs besides his, indicating they are being affected by drilling.

Colorado Family Sues Oil And Gas Drilling Firms

March 25, 2011

A western Colorado family has filed a lawsuit saying that negligence by oil and gas drilling companies contaminated their drinking water and air and forced them from their home.

Beth and Bill Strudley and their sons, ages 11 and 13, moved in 2005 outside Silt but said they started living in Glenwood Springs this year to escape the effects of work by Antero Resources Corp. and subcontractors Frontier Drilling and Calfrac Well Services. The Strudleys still own the home outside Silt. Their lawsuit in Denver District Court accuses all three firms of negligence.

" Gas drillers have got to be made to have safe drilling operations for the environment, for humans, for animal life," said Marc Bern, one of their attorneys. " Individuals drilling in this area care about one thing: profits. Profits over safety ."

Type: WATER WELL Date: 10/16/2009
Complainant: Fred Webb 15948 WCR 38 Platteville CO 80651
Description of Complaint: Sampling by KMG/Anadarko has identified a possible impacted water well due to O&G activity.
COGCC Response: investigation is completed and operator has arranged for the well owner to obtain a city water tap as a replacement for the impacted water well.

Type: GROUND WATER Date: 03/04/2009
Complainant: North Fork Ranch Landowners A 14218 Switchback Rd Weston CO 81091
Description of Complaint: The North Fork Ranch Landowners Association stated that environmental damage to groundwater resources has occurred due to activities of Pioneer Natural Resources and that public health has been endangered by the impacts to groundwater.
COGCC Response: Operator representative replied that communications would need to take place by counsel for Pioneer and that he would not directly respond to the concerns of the North Fork Ranch property owners

Type: GROUND WATER Date: 02/23/2009
Complainant: Marcia Dasko 15301 Logging Canyon Rd. Weston CO 81091
Description of Complaint: Ms. Dasko is concerned that impacts to groundwater quality seen in nearby monitoring well may be impacting water quality in water produced by her domestic water well. In particular methane and benzene were reported at levels above safety threshold for dissolved methane and above the WQCD groundwater standard for benzene. Monitoring well is less than one-fourth of a mile distant from the domestic well.
COGCC Response: Staff contacted Mr. Jacob of Pioneer after reviewing 6-month summary report on monitoring activities in the NFR area conducted by Pioneer Natural Resources. Pioneer was requested to develop a sampling and analysis plan to help understand the sudden increase in methane dissolved in water samples collected from the Niagara monitoring well.

Type: OTHER Date: 03/30/2009
Complainant: Gopa KA Ross 11111 Box Canyon Rd. Weston CO 81091
Description of Complaint: Given reports from the Nothwest, and Peter Gintautas from monitoring wells, in my view (Complaintant), the health and welfare of residence on the North Fork Ranch is being threatened. Niagra, Keystone, Sanchinator, and Molokai need to be shut down due to explosive levels in all monitoring wells . Chemical and metal compound readings are indicating severe problems above the water supplies within the ranch. I request a cease and desist order for all CBM wells within a mile of our location.
COGCC Response: Combined with Complaint 200207106 which raises the same issues and filed by the same Complainant. Also see Complaint 200206880 which involves sampling and analysis of groundwater produced by the Ross domestic water well.

Type: OTHER Date: 03/30/2009
Complainant: Gopa Ross 11111 Box Canyon Rd. Weston CO 81091
Description of Complaint: From Form 18 "North fork Monitoring wells as reported by P. Gintutas and per Norhtwest reports indicate a threat to public health and welfare. Pioneer N.R. is not responding to this issue. Residents need supervised water well sampling by the operator and a shutdown of operations until investigations and mitigation has been proven to maintain safety on the Norht Fork Ranch. I have tested my well with a private hydrologist. I believe methane, chemical and metal disruption threaten my safety and health."
COGCC Response: Impacts to groundwater as a result of CBM operations were not properly reported to the COGCC. Four NOAV, one for each impacted monitoring well, were issued to Pioneer Natural Resources (200204204, 200215814, 200215817 and 200215833). Benzene was reported at a concentration greater than the groundwater standard at the Niagara and Sanchinator monitoring wells. Dissolved methane has increased significantly in four monitoring wells to greater than that concentration that could result in accumulation to potentially explosive levels in an enclosed space.

Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas Pollutes Water Wells

May 9, 2011

Now a new study that sampled water from 60 such wells has found evidence for natural gas contamination in those within a kilometer of a new natural gas well.

"Methane concentrations in drinking water were much higher if the homeowner was near an active gas well," explains environmental scientist Robert Jackson of Duke University, who led the study published online May 9 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In fact, concentrations were 17 times higher in those drinking water wells within one kilometer of an active natural gas well than those farther away.

At the same time, the researchers found no evidence that either the chemicals in fracking fluids or the natural contamination in deep waters were polluting relatively shallow water wells in the vicinity of the deep natural gas wells. That suggests that leaking wells are likely the source of such methane contamination, rather than any migration upward from the deep. "It's easier to envision a gas well casing that's leaking, especially with the high pressures, than it is to envision the mass movement of gas or liquids 5,000 feet upwards," Jackson notes.

State backlogged with gas contamination cases dating back years

May 11, 2010

Despite a record fine of $390,000 levied last month against Oxy USA, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) has a backlog of unresolved water and soil contamination cases resulting from natural gas drilling in northwest Colorado, a Colorado Independent investigation reveals.

The COGCC earlier this month accepted the terms of the Oxy settlement, which included $390,000 for pit-leak contamination in the Cascade Canyon area and another $257,400 for a leak at Rock Springs. But the Prather case and several other high-profile spills remain unresolved, with no fines levied more than two years after they occurred.

On Jan. 31, 2008, Marathon Oil reported a defect in a pit liner that caused the release of nearly 32,000 barrels of water that was " flow-bac k" from a hydrofracture job being stored in a reserve pit to be used in another " frac k" job. The water, according to state documents, " infiltrated the subsurface, moved laterally, and discharged from a cliff above Garden Gulc h" and into the Parachute Creek drainage. That same month, Berry Petroleum reported a similar defective pit liner resulting in the release of an unknown quantity of drilling fluids into Garden Gulch. But the company hadn't reported two previous spills that occurred earlier in 2008 and in November of 2007.

"...too many operators prefer to play ' dodge ball' when it comes to admitting responsibility for spills."

" The big problem is frac chemicals are a secret and Colorado doesn't believe in tagging wells, so it takes COGCC staff months, if not years, to shovel through layers of company lawyers, engineers and scientists to finally agree on what happened and what should be the financial settlement -- if any ."

" We have a number of such cases, and so i t' s partly a staffing issue -- we only have so many environmental specialists and they can only do so much -- and i t' s partly the difficulty that these cases present, factually and scientifically and forensically ," Neslin added.

Click to continue to page two of water quality effects