With all the debate over whether or not hydraulic fracturing (also called ‘fracking’) negatively impacts the environment, many homeowners with private wells who live in areas where fracking takes place find themselves lost in a sea of information (and misinformation!) when they attempt to seek out simple ways to determine whether or not potentially hazardous changes in the quality of their well water may or may not have occurred.
Why the concern?
By now pretty much everyone has seen the videos of people lighting their well water on fire and some of you may have even seen the video where a representative from a gas or oil drilling company took a drink from a glass that allegedly contained fluid used in hydraulic fracturing — to ‘prove’ that the stuff was harmless.
One side says fracking destroys water sources and the other says it does little, if any, harm to the environment… so who should the homeowner believe?
Regardless of WHAT industrial activity takes place in the area of a private water well, be it fracking, coal mining, gold mining, oil drilling, or maybe even commercial farming, the responsibility for monitoring the water coming out of a private well falls on the shoulders of the well owner.
With that said, private water well owners need to watch the quality of their water and alert authorities when a noticeable change in water quality occurs — because rest assured the companies potentially responsible for changes in ground water quality will not say a word about potential problems until they get caught by the EPA or called out by the public.
Simple tests the public can perform…
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing have called for gas and oil companies to release the list of chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing for a number of years. Now of COURSE not one single company (that we know of) has made that sort of information public… which leaves many folks wondering how they will know if fracking fluid or other byproducts of the oil and gas drilling industry have crept into their well water.
Since the average person does not have regular access to laboratory grade equipment or usually feel like spending hundreds of dollars each time they want to test their well water, we suggest using the following simple water tests as indicators for when a person may want to consider having their water checked by a certified water testing laboratory:
Drastic changes in the above water quality parameters may indicate that some sort of contamination of the well water source has occurred and that a well owner may want consider having a certified water testing laboratory perform a more thorough, complete analysis for contaminants not detectable using home water test kits.