Hard Data Replaces Unknowns and Speculation

Colorado has upped its game with respect to putting a microscope on drinking water quality as it relates to oil and gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations in the state. A pilot program developed by Colorado State University, known as Colorado Water Watch, is a real-time groundwater monitoring program that uses a network of water quality sensors placed in water wells near oil and gas drilling sites in Weld County.

The idea is to allow scientists to monitor water quality data while simultaneously displaying it to the public. Anyone can go online to check the water quality in the pilot program’s monitoring wells. The 10 test sites are constantly reporting live from the Wattenberg Field, courtesy of CSU’s Center for Energy Water Sustainability. The data monitored by the sensors is delivered to the public in real time at the Colorado Water Watch Website.

DownholeOil & Gas 360 Colorado drill rig, measurements are continually taken of conductivity, pH, salinity, temperature, oxidation reduction potential, dissolved oxygen and depth. The Web site displays the data on an interactive graph and in report form. For a detailed description of water quality measuring data, including those collected and monitored by the CSU system, the USGS provides an easy-to-read explanation of the categories at its Water Science School Web site.

“We know 63 percent of the state’s 2,200 new gas and oil wells drilled in Colorado were drilled in Weld County, which is why we have ten test sites here,” said Dr. Ken Carlson with CSU. “The hope is to give real-time data to anyone with a computer, on any type of impact fracking might have in their community,” Carlson told Denver’s Fox31.

This is a very timely project in light of a large study released this month by Duke University with scientists from Ohio State, Stanford, Dartmouth and Rochester. The landmark study concluded that failed pipe and cement, not hydraulic fracturing, allowed gas to leak into a group of contaminated water wells in Pennsylvania.

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