|By Staci Matlock, The Santa Fe New Mexican|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The industry trade organization is encouraging oil and gas well developers to get permission from water well owners to test as a way of proving that drilling and fracking are safe and won't hurt water quality.
"If a homeowner does not know the quality of water before any industrial activity occurs, they have no baseline by which they can make industry accountable," Dudley said. "Industry has been given a green light under the 2005 Energy Bill. And they aren't accountable under the Clean Water Act or the Safe Drinking Water Standards Act."
"There are many water wells in
Contamination in the past has been linked to unlined waste pits or leaks at pump sites. There isn't proof yet that newer hydraulic fracturing techniques designed to reach more marginal oil reserves, have contaminated any sites in
While there's been more than 400 instances of surface and groundwater contamination from waste pits and other production activity in the state, there hasn't been a documented case of contamination from hydraulic fracturing, Drangmeister said.
The state Oil Conservation Division agrees with industry that there is no documented proof yet of groundwater contamination from fracking, according to spokesman
"The cases of groundwater contamination ... are associated with surface impoundments [pits] utilized at well sites. These groundwater contamination cases are not associated with hydraulic fracturing conducted on oil and gas wells in
The lack of documentation doesn't mean there hasn't been contamination from from hydraulic fracturing. It means there's no documented proof yet. Many well owners didn't have their water tested for the kinds of chemicals associated with oil and gas production, before oil and gas wells are drilled. So it is harder to prove any changes in the water quality after the well starts producing are due to oil and gas activity.
Thousands of New Mexicans rely on groundwater from individual or community wells for their drinking water. Some, like those in
Those in favor and opposed to drilling see domestic well testing as key to proving their side, but any testing is strictly voluntary. No state or federal law requires industry or landowners to conduct a baseline test of groundwater well quality. But the
Minerals in rocks naturally degrade, unrelated to oil and gas development, and change well water quality.
Fluids used in oil and gas well development can potentially contaminate water three ways, according to
Groundwater aquifers that provide drinking water are often separated from the oil and gas zones by hundreds of feet of rock, but not always.
Vertical hydraulic fracturing was pioneered in 1947, according to the
Chemicals make up less than 2 percent of the fracking fluid, according to
Dudley and her group used grants and donations to pay for baseline testing on 14 wells in
"If we truly want to be empowered and truly make a difference, we must take full responsibility and not put testing in the hands of industry or state government," Dudley said.
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