If oil and gas drilling is being conducted on your land, you may be the fortunate recipient of large royalty payments. Unfortunately, an increase in well water contamination is another outcome of the oil and gas boom. If contaminants leach into the surrounding air and water, your company could be liable. 

Your new water well could be your savior. Commercial water well drilling must comply with strict environmental standards to ensure groundwater safety. The following water well drilling precautions can save you from expensive cleanups and lawsuits in the future. 

Knowing the Geology and Environmental Past of the Land 

An experienced commercial water well developer will collect data on your groundwater before drilling. They will also have data from and be familiar with the groundwater on adjoining lands. From experience, for example, they may be aware that hydrogen sulfide or methane leaks have been a problem in the area in the past. 

This past environmental history will affect the state and local rules that have evolved and that your well driller should comply with. He or she will also know the geology of the land. Over a short distance, a change in rock type can have significant effects on the quality of water.

Testing for Contaminants

Privately owned wells are not subject to EPA drinking water protection rules. But the alarming increase in leaking oil and gas wells could still create environmental liability issues for your company. The challenge is knowing which of dozens of potential harmful contaminants to test for. Local health authorities will sweep through from time to time and test for coliform bacteria from humans and animals, pH levels, VOCs, nitrites, arsenic, and mercury. 

Depending on the land use in your region, other special tests could be required to ensure public health and safety. These include tests for pesticides in farming areas and the rise in methane associated with shale gas drilling.

Using Low-Impact Water Well Drilling Practices 

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing of rock formations are introducing new environmental hazards. Some of these wells are behind a toxic menace of harmful substances.

Two main ways these risks are being reduced are through the use of environmental data and the environmentally responsible development of wells. Some measures your water well driller will take include using:

  • environmentally safe drilling additives and fluids
  • sonic drilling to provide less disruption to the surrounding geology, eliminate slough, and improve sample quality. 

Your environmental risks are rising. Environmentally responsible water well drilling brings together water well, geotechnical, and environmental expertise to minimize your environmental liability.