NGWA principles for fracking policy makers
February 1, 2012, Westerville, OH – The National Ground Water Association (NGWA) has issued a series of principles for policy making, aimed at protecting ground water in areas of the United States experiencing increased oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing.
“The greater use of horizontal wells and the
hydraulic fracturing technology has the potential to significantly
expand natural gas and oil supplies, and hold down prices,” NGWA states
in a new position paper. “However, concomitant with this enhanced
production is the increased possibility for ground water contamination,
and other impacts to drinking water supplies, if best practices and
proper procedures are not used, and if appropriate regulations are not
Hydraulic fracturing is a petroleum industry
process in which fluids, commonly made up of water and a small
percentage of chemical additives, are combined with sand and pumped at
very high pressure into a geologic formation holding oil or gas. The
resulting fractures allow the release of the oil or gas, which can be
NGWA recommends that policies be put in place and enforced,
if they are not already, that promote:
- Disclosure of all chemicals used in the oil or gas well hydraulic fracturing process to the appropriate governmental entity
- Proper construction and regular maintenance of oil or gas production
wells to prevent the migration of natural and injected fluids that
could endanger current or future drinking water sources
- Best management practices or appropriate regulations to address
surface spills and waste management related to hydraulic fracturing
- Development of water supply plans in areas where water is scarce or the potential for water use conflicts exist.
NGWA also says more study of potential
impacts to ground water used for drinking water supplies is warranted
given the proliferation of horizontal wells and hydraulic fracturing.
“NGWA recognizes that hydraulic fracturing of
oil and gas wells is a mature technology and has been a widespread
practice for many decades. While no widespread water quality or quantity
issues have been definitively documented…NGWA believes additional
studies, research and monitoring related to the potential for
ground water contamination from the installation, hydraulic fracturing,
operation, and maintenance of oil and gas wells are needed,” NGWA’s
position paper states.
Other NGWA policy recommendations include:
- Proper construction and regular maintenance of water wells, including in areas of oil and gas well installation
- Using certified laboratories to test water wells in proximity to oil
or gas development prior to and after drilling and/or hydraulic
- Development by state agencies of a recommended list of water testing
parameters to assist household and public water system owners
- Establishment of integrated ground water monitoring programs using
dedicated wells at the regional and local scale to establish baseline
- Monitoring, financial responsibility, and liability provisions
related to oil and gas development that are cognizant of the actual
travel-times observed in natural hydrologic systems.
“The need for increasing the nation’s energy
supplies exists concurrently with the need to ensure adequate fresh water
for drinking, food production, manufacturing, and ecosystem support,”
To read the NGWA's position paper, visit www.ngwa.org.