EPA Study: Hydraulic Fracturing and Drinking Water Supply—What You Need to Know

Although hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) often occurs thousands of feet below the deepest aquifers, many claim that it impacts the quality of the local water supply. The EPA, in its draft study, Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources, stated that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systematic impacts to drinking water resources.”

The EPA study concluded that hydraulic fracturing is safe, but mistakes associated with fracing close to the ground surface could affect drinking water. Specifically, it found that water quality can be affected when:

  1. Water availability in specific areas is low;
  2. Fracing fluid and produced water spills occur at the surface;
  3. Fracing directly into underground drinking water resources;
  4. Below ground migration of Liquids and gases; and
  5. Wastewater is inadequately treated and discharged

When one or more of the above conditions have occurred, the quality of drinking water, including the contamination of drinking water wells, can be impacted. The number of identified cases, however, was small compared to the number of hydraulically fractured wells.

As a fracing operator, what does this mean to you? Quite simply, that the use of proper well construction techniques and surface management controls is a best practice that can help ensure water quality.

Apex’s Environmental Quality Inspection Program (EQuIPSM) supports your drilling and completions operations and minimizes the potential for contamination issues during the process. This 3rd party oversight program—customizable to your risk and budgetary needs—may include:

  • Liner and Containment Installation and Maintenance Inspections
  • Fluid Transfers
  • BMPs—E&SC and SWPPPs
  • Monitoring Wells

Bottom Line: Hydraulic fracturing can be done responsibly and safely.

Apex Associated Press (Apex AP) represents contributions from various authors within the Apex professional community.

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