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Hydrofracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater


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2011 Private Well Symposium - The importance for Fixing Private Wells in Pennsylvania - The Marcellus Shale Factor-Concurrent Session 3: Hydrofracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater

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Hydrofracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater

  1. 1. 2011 Northeast Private Well Water Symposium <ul><li>Title: Getting the Waters Tested – The Marcellus Shale Factor </li></ul><ul><li>November 14, 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Concurrent Session 3:Hydrofracturing and Its Impact on Groundwater (3:00 – 5:00 pm) </li></ul><ul><li>Dates – November 14 – 15, 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Heritage Hotel and Conference Center in Southbury, Connecticut </li></ul>
  2. 2. Getting The Waters Tested The Marcellus Shale Factor Old Issues New Issues Environment Water Resources Private Wells In PA
  3. 3. B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. <ul><li>Professional Consulting Services </li></ul><ul><li>Baseline – Chain-of-Custody- Expert Testimony </li></ul><ul><li>Water Treatment Process/ Product Development </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  4. 4. Water-Research Center <ul><li>Education and Outreach Program funded by B.F. Environmental Consultants Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>Outreach Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental and Professional Education and Training for Citizens and Local Municipalities </li></ul><ul><li>Water Quality Help Guides – Information Library </li></ul><ul><li>Community and Business Outreach Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Low Cost – Informational Water Testing Program with National Laboratory </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen Monitoring Programs </li></ul><ul><li>Website: </li></ul>Carbon County Groundwater Guardians
  5. 5. Document Notice <ul><li>Copyright and all content is owned and retained by Mr. Brian Oram </li></ul><ul><li>Document can not be reproduced in whole or part without providing credit as follows: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mr. Brian Oram, PG </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>570-335-1947 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Goals <ul><li>Part 1- The Private Well Factor and Issue in Pennsylvania </li></ul><ul><li>Private Well Water Quality for the Region </li></ul><ul><li>Existing Problems in Region </li></ul><ul><li>Brief Introduction to Marcellus Shale and Importance of Proper Well Construction </li></ul><ul><li>Review of Hydraulic Fracturing </li></ul><ul><li>Methane Gas Migration </li></ul><ul><li>The Citizen Groundwater Database </li></ul><ul><li>Methane Gas in PA </li></ul><ul><li>Well Monitoring and Purging </li></ul><ul><li>Chain-of-Custody </li></ul><ul><li>Baseline Testing – What Parameters? </li></ul><ul><li>Duke and PSU Findings – My Thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>Educating the Community-Making a Difference </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Goa1 - Private Wells/ Water Systems in Pennsylvania </li></ul>What ? 95 % drilled wells 5 % hand-dug and other
  8. 8. PA -Private Wells Not Regulated <ul><li>Private Wells Are Not Regulated under Safe Drinking Water Act </li></ul><ul><ul><li>EPA – NO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PADEP – NO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>County – Very Few Counties in PA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Townships – some have basic ordinance on placement- some have comprehensive requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where are these Wells? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Lets Be Honest – We have Problems in Pennsylvania with Private Wells <ul><li>Wells Poorly Constructed – either poor casing, inadequate casing, or annular space not grouted. </li></ul><ul><li>Wells Too Deep – Mixing Fresh and Saline Aquifers </li></ul><ul><li>Wells in the Wrong Place </li></ul>
  10. 10. Properly Constructed Wells and Poorly Constructed Wells Confining Bed Sea Level Stagnant Water – no to little flow Saline Water Proper Construction Brine Water 600 to 1200 ft Fresh Water Poorly Constructed
  11. 11. Some Private Well Photos
  12. 12. What is the Marcellus Shale Factor and Why a Citizen Database? <ul><li>We have been educating private wellowners for 20+ years- but it was difficult to get citizens to test their well water. It looks clear – I am not sick – It is fine. </li></ul><ul><li>The Marcellus Shale Factor – Baseline Testing for Natural Gas Development is conducting Testing and Citizens are be told they have a Problem NOW. </li></ul><ul><li>Based on Private Well Construction and Placement - Some Private Wells may be the pathways for Contamination. </li></ul><ul><li>How do we track an unregulated activity – such as: Private Wells and Identify Zones or Areas that are Vulnerable to Contamination. </li></ul><ul><li>This lead to the idea for creating the Citizen Groundwater / Surfacewater Database. </li></ul>WE Support the Citizen Groundwater Database at Wilkes University !
  13. 13. This is Drinking Water in PA? Iron / Manganese Bacteria Sediment / Gases Corrosion 50% Other 50%
  14. 14. Before Marcellus Shale Development What was the Quality of Private Well Water? <ul><li>A USGS survey found that 70% of private wells were contaminated. This </li></ul><ul><li>contamination could result in acute or chronic health concerns (1996). </li></ul><ul><li>Sixty-Four Percent of the identified waterborne disease outbreaks in the </li></ul><ul><li>United States during 1999 and 2000 occurred in unregulated private water </li></ul><ul><li>Wells. Lee et al. (2002). - HOW MUCH DOES THIS ADD to Health </li></ul><ul><li>Care Cost – DO WE CARE?? </li></ul><ul><li>Testing Conducted by Wilkes University throughout the United States </li></ul><ul><li>indicates that 30 to over 50% may be contaminated – Mostly by Total </li></ul><ul><li>Coliform Bacteria – 30% of these E. coli. Positive (1989 – 2010). </li></ul><ul><li>PSU – Master Well Owner Network suggests that 33 to 50 % of Private </li></ul><ul><li>Well Owners in PA may have some form of contamination. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Not Just a Marcellus Shale Issue
  16. 16. <ul><li>Based on the geology of the NEPA and my 20 years experience, the common water quality problems are as follows: </li></ul>Corrosive Water Low pH Soft Water (low hardness) to Moderate Hardness Iron and Manganese Total Coliform Bacteria Sulfur Odors and Methane- Biogenic and Thermogenic Gas (Tends to be < 10 mg/L) Some over 28 mg/L Contamination by VOCs, SOCs, Glycols, Saline Water, and Radionuclides are NOT COMMON, but saline water may influence 1 to 3 % of wells – This is 12,000 to 36,000 households in PA!
  17. 17. Goal of the Database <ul><li>Provide a Central Location to Store Baseline Pre-Drilling and/or Post-Drilling Water Quality Data for the Region </li></ul><ul><li>Document Quality by Geological Formation </li></ul><ul><li>Identify Existing Regional Issues or Concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an Un-Biased Community Resource </li></ul><ul><li>Provide a Mechanism to Track Temporal, Spatial, and other Geospatial Variation in Water Quality. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Image Source: Recent Baseline Testing in Luzerne County, PA 320 Private Wells Tested Conducted by Certified Laboratories Third Party Samplers Not Wilkes University Study Area
  19. 19. The Source of the Data I am Presenting Today Certified – Third Party Samplers All Testing Completed by Certified Laboratories Using Approved Methods Samples include rigorous QC/QA including Blanks/ Duplicates All wells purged using Standards of Practice Purging Time Based on Stabilized Well Parameters (pH, conductivity, and temperature) The data is the baseline data that was done by EnCana. Homeowners had to approve releasing the data – over 90 % said Yes.
  20. 20. Up to 3% influenced by Saline Water – These same samples have methane approaching 7 mg/L or more. Source – Wilkes University Database Total Coliform (49%) 20% E Coli. Positive Lead (22 %) Plasticizers (8%) Arsenic (6%)
  21. 21. Most Contamination appears to be associated with Total Coliform Bacteria <ul><li>Insects, Larvae and Nests / Egg Masses </li></ul><ul><li>Mouse Colonies </li></ul><ul><li>Snakes </li></ul><ul><li>Beehives </li></ul><ul><li>Mud - when casing to close to ground </li></ul>Therefore – In some cases - the Private Wells are Facilitating Groundwater Contamination.
  22. 22. What are Phthalates? <ul><li>Used as Plasticizers- is a substance which when added to a material, usually a plastic, makes it flexible and easier to handle. </li></ul><ul><li>Bis(2-ethylhexylphthalte) (DEHP) – DW Standard – 6 ppb – GI problems, possible endocrine disruptor and carcinogen. </li></ul><ul><li>Recent Testing – Highest Value was 60 ppb. </li></ul><ul><li>How did this get in the aquifer? </li></ul>8 % have plasticizers above the drinking water standards
  23. 23. How ? Not Sure – Here are Some Ideas <ul><li>Trace Level or near Detection Limit may be related to contamination during field sampling or laboratory testing, but this does not appear to account for levels at or above the drinking water standard. </li></ul><ul><li>Other Sources </li></ul><ul><li>Private Wells Not Regulated and there are no plumbing codes. </li></ul><ul><li>Sources – PVC plastic piping used in the home. </li></ul><ul><li>Sources – Drop Pipe and Delivery Piping used in the well. </li></ul><ul><li>This is only a hypothesis. Sometimes we also see hits for Vinyl Chloride and Toluene (What the electric Tape !!!!) </li></ul>
  24. 24. Arsenic- up to 6 % Elevated Levels <ul><li>The drinking water MCL is 0.010 mg/L. </li></ul><ul><li>Arsenic can result in the formation of malignant tumors on skin and lungs and may cause nervous system disorders. </li></ul><ul><li>Observable symptoms of arsenic poisoning are: thickening and discoloration of the skin, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, numbness in hands and feet, partial paralysis, and blindness. </li></ul><ul><li>For this particular parameter within Northeastern Pennsylvania (NEPA), it would be advisable to retest the water for dissolved and total arsenic. </li></ul><ul><li>In many cases, the arsenic has been leached from a colloid or particle that could be more cost effectively removed by standard filtration. It is also typically bound to iron oxide complexes. </li></ul>
  25. 25. More Facts- Private Wells Issues Can / Does Impact Citizens Health <ul><li>There are nearly 1 million households in PA that rely directly on private wells.   This is equivalent to serving approximately 3 million PA residents. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>20,000 new wells are drilled every year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In 2000, it was estimated there were 1.2 million private wells in PA. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If 50% - have deficiencies that facilitate groundwater contamination – </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is approximately 500,000 places were contaminants can leak directly into the groundwater aquifer. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>500,000 pathways for leaks, spills, and other surface releases to directly impact the groundwater aquifer </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>1.5 million citizens drinking water that is “not potable ”. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A Study Completed in 2002 found that 64 percent of the identified waterborne disease outbreaks in the United States during 1999 and 2000 occurred in unregulated private water wells . </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Methane in Water <ul><li>Methane has been a hidden issue in NEPA. </li></ul><ul><li>The gas is colorless, tasteless, and odorless and there are no known health effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Potential concerns relate to flammability/ explosiveness of gas. </li></ul><ul><li>Background – appears to range from non-detect to over 20+ mg/L (highly variable) in Northeast Pennsylvania. </li></ul><ul><li>I lit my first well water sample burn in about 1989- thanks to methane gas. </li></ul><ul><li>New Action Limit of 7 mg/L in water </li></ul>
  27. 27. Methane Gas Video from Salt Springs State Park – Fall 2010, by Brian Oram http:// “At the base of the gorge is a bubbling salt spring, traces of an 1850s woolen mill, and mid-19th century farmhouses and barns.” Go to:
  28. 28. Methane Gas Migration- Not Related to Marcellus Shale Private Well Landfill Wetland 600 to 1200 ft 1200 to 3000+ ft Gas from Non-Marcellus Shale Groundwater Flow Lake
  29. 29. Rock Sample from Quarry – West of Dimock Sandstone Unit – Containing Plant Materials, Organic Muds – Possible Shallow Methane Source
  30. 30. Duke Study- “ Gas Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing&quot; by Osborn <ul><li>Note: </li></ul><ul><li>Action Level is 7 mg/L </li></ul><ul><li>2. Study done in an area </li></ul><ul><li>with “suspected” gas migration </li></ul><ul><li>Problems- Not Considered. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Data suggest a simple 2-D </li></ul><ul><li>relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Many samples well above </li></ul><ul><li>Saturation- Influenced by Pump Depth. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Contains No Pre-Drill Data- </li></ul><ul><li>for the shaded area. </li></ul>Title is spin. If I told you your grade was 26.8 +/- 30 – Did you get a zero?
  31. 31. It looks like background methane levels may follow a linear/ curvilinear trend. Cabot – Quick Look
  32. 32. Bedrock Fractures and Fractured Zones High Yielding Well (High Methane ?) Fractured Zone Lower Yielding Well (Low Methane?)
  33. 33. Purge Time, minutes C O N C E N T R A T I O N Methane Increases with Purge Time. How Many Private Well Owner Normally Let Water Run for 45 minutes
  34. 34. Methane Gas Migration Videos (2009 – Prior to Regulatory Change) <ul><li>Misc. Videos Showing Gas Migration at the wellhead. </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Some Marcellus Shale Issues <ul><li>Movements or Discolored Water Associated with the Physical Process of Drilling. </li></ul><ul><li>Problems Caused by Inadequate Casing Placement and Cementing </li></ul><ul><li>Issues of Deep or Excessively Deep Private Wells- that are not known. </li></ul><ul><li>Old Abandon Oil/Gas Wells –Mostly Western PA </li></ul>
  36. 36. Marcellus Shale - Cartoons <ul><li>Again – I am not saying I am right, just that I can make a cartoon. </li></ul>
  37. 37. PSU Study -Migration and Disturbance During Drilling- losing circulation Proper Construction Poor Construction Key Points 1. Proper Casing and Cement of Marcellus Shale Wells 2. Knowing How Private Wells Are Constructed 3. Isolation Distances will not Solve This Problem. 4. Fixing Private Wells has to be part of the Solution. 5. This may account for the data on bromide from PSU. 6. The issue may not be well radial distance, but construction and drilling issue. 7. Recommend closed loop drilling with water within freshwater aquifer (no muds) or water-based muds. up to 2000 ft Lined Pit Could this explain the Bromide Issue??
  38. 38. Catskill Formation “ Bluestone Quarry – West of Dimock” Note – Preferential Flow Pathways Along Joints and Bedding Planes 80 feet
  39. 39. Migration Concepts- Multiple Casements and Recreate Confining Layers- Need Good Cement Bonds- Cement up to Deepest Casement or Surface Older Younger Water Table Private Well Confining Layer More Conventional Reservoir Target
  40. 40. Could Radon Gas be a Good Surrogate for Methane Migration? It cost less to test for Radon than Methane- Not Suggesting we Eliminate Methane- add Radon 9000 psi 4000 psi Is this Possible ? Very Deep Private Well- We have some that are 900 + feet deep
  41. 41. Note <ul><li>Again – I am not saying anything migrated from the Marcellus Shale into the Catskill Formation or directly into a private well. </li></ul><ul><li>I am suggesting a Push- Like a “domino effect” or like in Shooting Pool with a possible lag because of permeability- just vertical. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Related to Marcellus Shale <ul><li>Yes – Baseline Testing at a Further Distance – I proposed 3000 feet and 2 years in 2009 with testing every 6 months. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes – Assumed Responsibility over a Larger Time Frame- 2 years with screening test every 6 months. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes – Liners and Self- Contained Drilling Pads </li></ul><ul><li>Yes- Closed Loop Drilling and Water Reuse- change PA Laws to Project Waters with a TDS of less than 10,000 mg/L – this is consistent with the EPA UIC Program. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes – Cement Bound Logs and More Disclosure- put copy of permit at a local Twp or Municipal Building </li></ul><ul><li>Yes – Higher Permit Fees so Inspectors Working for the Citizens are On Site or Fees to Pay for Contractors Hired by the State that Carry a PA Professional License. </li></ul>Problem – This does nothing to fix the Problems we have in PA with Private Wells that is not caused by the Marcellus Shale Development.
  43. 43. What We Need in PA <ul><li>Private Well Construction Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Well Drilling and Geothermal Well Standards </li></ul><ul><li>Require Water Testing When Well is Drilled- Simple Cost Effective Screening Test. </li></ul><ul><li>Program to Fix Private Wells </li></ul><ul><li>Stop Using Baseline Data as a “Requirement for a Permit or Part of a To Do List”, but as a Tool to Fix and Prevent Problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Compile the Data for Tracking Change, Education Outreach, and Not Regulatory Enforcement Against Private Well Owners. </li></ul>
  44. 44. Things We Tried <ul><li>Education and Outreach Programs (success) </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging Private Well Testing (success) </li></ul><ul><li>Micro-loan Program to Fix Wells – Great Program – Bad Economy and Terms and Conditions for Program Difficult- We had over $ 100,000 at 1% Many Interested - Only 1 Application Meet USDA Conditions </li></ul><ul><li>Grant Program to Fix Private Wells – Some funding needs support – Maybe Severance Tax, Impact Fee Could Assist, Donations. </li></ul>
  45. 45. DRASTIC Model
  46. 46. Correlation of DRASTIC and Incidences of Contamination Comparison of Relative DRASTIC index vulnerabilities to frequencies of the occurrence of Total Coliform contamination of Buda and Salansky well water samples- Thanks to Encana and the local private well owners. Poor Correlation. – I think poor well construction making wells more vulnerable than anticipated.
  47. 47. Again <ul><ul><li>Up to 1.5 Million - Citizens in PA Drink Water that may cause short </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>term or chronic disease. This has nothing to do with Marcellus Shale </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or Unconventional Gas. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This needs to have attention – NOW! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is not a Marcellus Shale Issue- it is a Health Care and Economic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Issue for the State of Pennsylvania. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>We NEED to Work as a Community and Fix The Problems We </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Created. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Do we really want to Control Health Care Cost?? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is not a Marcellus Shale Issue – It is a HEALTH Issue ! </li></ul></ul>
  48. 48. New Community Resource Download a Free Copy (pdf) – email [email_address] <ul><li>Also: </li></ul><ul><li>BFE are Working on a Regional Citizen </li></ul><ul><li>Water Quality Database. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2. BFE provides education outreach programs for </li></ul><ul><li>private well owners. </li></ul><ul><li>3. BFE is working on an update to the booklet – it </li></ul><ul><li>will be available for Community Education Programs. </li></ul>Add Your Data to the Citizen Database- Contact Mr. Brian Oram at [email_address] or [email_address]
  49. 49. Announcements <ul><li>Announcement – New Private Well Owner and Watershed Survey for Marcellus Shale Region - Going to Offer 200 Free Radon in Water Tests . </li></ul><ul><li>Want to host a community meeting to discuss baseline testing, gas migration, community monitoring, Citizen Groundwater/Surfacewater Database or other issues – call (570) 335-1947, [email_address] or </li></ul><ul><li>Visit Us at </li></ul><ul><li>New Fact Sheet Related to Methane Gas and Updating the Free Booklet </li></ul><ul><li>for Private Well Owners. </li></ul>
  50. 50. Baseline Testing- Critical Issues <ul><li>Get Testing Done NOW </li></ul><ul><li>Fix any problems that are identified to protect your well water and our WATER. </li></ul><ul><li>Need Help Selecting Parameters or Understanding Testing Results– Go to </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  51. 51. Facebook Sites <ul><li>National Water Tests Water Research Watershed Center Citizen Science </li></ul><ul><li>Pocono Northeast Resource, Conservation & Development Council </li></ul><ul><li>Carbon County Groundwater Guardians </li></ul><ul><li>B.F Environmental Consultants Inc </li></ul>
  52. 52. Presented by: <ul><li>Mr. Brian Oram, Professional Geologist (PG), Soil Scientist, Licensed Well Driller, IGSHPA </li></ul><ul><li>Visit Our Web Portal </li></ul><ul><li>Free Information for Private Well Owners on </li></ul><ul><li>Drinking Water Quality </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>We Serve Over 2000 Unique Visitor Every Day ! </li></ul>