Jul 03, 2013

Wyoming, EPA to Investigate Water Quality Concerns

Wyoming to lead further investigation on drinking water quality in Pavillion, Wyo., with EPA support

EPA Pavillion, Wyoming Drinking Water Quality Investigation

The state of Wyoming announced that it would further investigate drinking water quality in the rural area east of Pavillion, Wyo. This will be done with the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) will lead the scientific investigation and will seek to address water quality concerns by evaluating the water quality of certain domestic water wells, the integrity of certain oil and gas wells and historic pits in the Pavillion area. The state of Wyoming intends to conclude its investigation and release a final report by Sep. 30, 2014. The state’s investigation seeks to clarify water quality concerns and assess the need for any further action to protect drinking water resources. Wyoming will continue its work to assure residents have a clean source of drinking water available.

In 2009, at the request of citizens living outside of Pavillion who reported objectionable taste and odor in their well water, EPA began working with the state of Wyoming and the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to identify the source and extent of impacts on domestic well water quality. To date, after five phases of sampling, EPA’s domestic water well sampling results have documented constituents of concern; however, a source of those constituents has not been determined. EPA efforts to evaluate potential migration pathways from deeper gas production zones to shallower domestic water wells in the Pavillion gas field are inconclusive.

Wyoming, through the WOGCC and the WDEQ, will conduct a comprehensive review of all relevant data and initiate an additional science-based investigation. The sampling data obtained throughout EPA’s groundwater investigation will be considered in Wyoming’s further investigation. The WOGCC and WDEQ will retain the services of an independent expert or experts to assist staff with the reviews, investigations, analyses and preparation of final reports. EPA and Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. will have the opportunity to provide input to the state of Wyoming and recommend third-party experts for the state’s consideration.

“Encana has chosen to make a grant in the amount of $1.5 million to the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation to be used for further investigation by the state of Wyoming and for a statewide education and awareness program through the Wyoming Assn. of Conservation Districts related to best practices and permitting guidelines for the benefit of Wyoming’s citizens and industries in conjunction with initiatives that support and protect rural water supplies,” said Jeff Wojahn, president of Encana.

As part of the state’s investigation, 14 domestic water wells located in the Pavillion oil and natural gas field will be further evaluated for water quality and palatability concerns. The WOGCC will also prepare a report concerning the status and reclamation of historic production pits in the Pavillion Field. In addition, WOGCC will prepare a report concerning the integrity of all oil and natural gas exploration and production wells within 1320 ft of the 14 domestic water wells identified for further investigation. WDEQ will evaluate the data, conclusions and recommendations contained in WOGCC’s well bore integrity and pits final reports. In its review, WDEQ will consider all relevant data for each of the 14 domestic water wells. WDEQ will then conduct two rounds of sampling of some or all of the 14 domestic water wells. It will determine if further investigation, including additional sampling, is necessary using exceedances of EPA primary and secondary contaminant levels and WDEQ water quality rules and regulations as a trigger.