Water Issues are Created by the Activities of the Oil & Gas Industry

by Duane Nichols on March 18, 2016

Water Quality Fact Sheet from WVU Extenstion Service

This information is about a new fact sheet co-authored by Georgette Plaugher and Greg Hamons (Extension Agent-Pocahontas County) from the WVU Extension Service Oil and Gas Team. 
This fact sheet is the first in a planned 3 part series regarding inspecting, protecting, managing and testing private water supplies.  While the emphasis is on general information about private water supplies, each fact sheet will include information about oil and gas development and how it relates to private water supplies. 
Here’s where the fact sheets live: http://anr.ext.wvu.edu/publications

If you have any questions, please contact:
Georgette Plaugher, West Virginia University Extension Service
Oil and Natural Gas Education Program, Program Coordinator
Telephone: 304-329-1391


Inspecting and Maintaining Your Private Water Supply

Georgette Plaugher, WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Coordinator – Oil and Natural Gas

Greg Hamons, WVU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent – Pocahontas County

To protect your private water supply and maintain its quality, it is your responsibility to monitor potential negative impacts and prevent problems before they happen. Sometimes this is difficult to do when situations on or near your property occur that are beyond your control. However, there are things you can do to ensure your activities are not impacting your water supply.

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What are the common water quality problems with private water supplies in West Virginia?

 Improper well, spring or cistern construction.
 Poor wellhead or spring protection and maintenance.
 Naturally occurring problems common in West Virginia:
o Corrosive water, low pH and soft water (causes blue stains, metallic taste).
o Hard water (caused by calcium and magnesium which can cause white residue, dingy laundry).
o Iron (reddish stains, metallic taste).
o Manganese (black stains, metallic taste).
o Hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg odor).
o Methane (odorless, colorless and flammable, may cause spurting faucets or effervescent water).
 Bacteria, such as coliform and E. coli from surface water, insects, animals or septic systems.
 Manmade organic materials from dumps, industrial sites or landfills.
 Sediment.
 Lead from older copper and lead pipe plumbing systems, most common in plumbing installed prior to 1991.

How do I know if I have a problem?

You may experience changes in your water, such as color, taste or smell. However, not all contaminants can be detected through our senses. If you are concerned, have your water tested at a certified laboratory. It is recommended you have your water tested annually for bacteria and once every three years for pH, total dissolved solids and other possible contaminants relative to your area.

What if I find out I have a problem?

This will depend on the severity of the problem. If the problem is minor, it may be corrected through maintenance and inspection, pollution control or treatment. If the problem is major, a new water source might need to be developed. Explore all your options before taking action. Your county health department can help you with this. Once you determine the best solution to the problem, take action as soon possible. Unsafe water should not be consumed.

Resources — Individual Water Supplies, Wells, Cisterns and Springs: West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Public Health Sanitation Division:



PIPELINE UPDATE: Monitoring Threatened Water Supplies

Please consider a donation for this highly important work!
— April P. Keating, Mountain Lakes Preservation Association, Buckhannon, WV

From the web site:  http://pipelineupdate.org/2016/03/11/monitoring-threatened-water-supplies/

The following project description is based on information provided in the 3/10/16  ABRA Update:

“Downstream Strategies, a Morgantown, WV environmental consulting firm, will examine the potential implications of pipeline development on private and public water supplies and will provide recommendations for water quality and quantity monitoring for landowners and water providers. The report will address both the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

The report is expected to be available in April and will be made public. It will consist of the following sections:

>>> an overview of risks, potential impacts, and other water supply issues related to pipeline development

>>> a description and evaluation of ACP and MVP water supply monitoring plans recommendations for monitoring water sources for quality and quantity in relation to pipeline development

>>> a guide for consulting and laboratory services to conduct water monitoring

Rick Webb, Chair of the Environmental Resources Committee and Program Coordinator of the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (DPMC), will manage the study for ABRA. 

Special funding for the study is being provided by support from ABRA members.  So far, half of the needed $10,630 has been raised from contributions by the Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Highlanders for Responsible Development.

Further financial help is needed!  Please consider making a contribution to support this important study.  Checks should be made out and mailed to: Highlanders for Responsible Development – ABRA (with “Water Study” in the memo line), P.O. Box 685, Monterey, VA 24465.

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Barium Reports May 27, 2016 at 9:59 am


Study Reports That Barium Directly Drains From Fractured Rock

By Michael Finn, Science World Report, May 26, 2016 

Barium is a chemical element with symbol Ba and atomic number 56. It is the fifth element in Group 2, a soft silvery metallic alkaline earth metal. 

Barium plays a significant role in the current research being done at the Dartmouth College. The researchers are trying to shed some light on the initial chemical reactions found in the organic sediments, which would later be identified as the Marcellus Shale, the main source of petroleum and natural gas. With findings already published in the journal Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, the study aims to further an earlier research by the Dartmouth team.

Remarkable high concentrations of toxic metal barium and unusually high total-dissolved-solids were formed when water was injected into the shale structures in hydraulic fracturing. The hazardous wastewater is believed to be partially due to the chemicals found in the injected fresh water when it combines with the highly saline brine, which is normally present in the rock. However, in the earlier research, it was discovered that the chemical reactions between the fractured shale and the injected fresh water enabled the barium to directly drain from the fractured rock, Science Codex reported.

In the new study, barium becomes the point of interest, as the researchers tried to look into why, how and when the Marcellus Shale became enriched with the reactive metal. They examined in detail the mineralogy, chemistry and the sulfur isotope composition of the core, which they consider as a special sample since it has 5,000 micrograms of barium each gram of  rock.

The samples gave the researchers with ideas into when, where and how the barium with mineral changed into iron sulfide while organic rich marine sediment transforms into shale  during Devonian times. In addition to this, the researchers also found barite grains being “bitten” by the pyrite as the latter took the former’s place through a complicated set of reactions, which could only happen at a certain depth interval wherein sulfide and sulfate exist.

Barium mobilization’s generalized nature has been well identified, as the new study was able to provide enough ideas, which were better established as barite is broken down in organic rich sediments and in its redistribution in clay minerals, according to SCPR. 


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