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Groundwater Monitoring Program for Oil and Gas Production Areas – SB 4

Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) required the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to adopt regulations specific to well stimulation. However, final regulations will not be in place until 2015. The Water Boards are also required to develop model criteria for groundwater monitoring.


Stakeholder Meetings to Develop Model Groundwater Monitoring Criteria in Areas of Oil and Gas Production

Previous meetings: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) hosted a public meeting to gather information on stakeholder's perspective and ideas regarding oil and gas activities on groundwater quality and the development of groundwater monitoring model criteria.

Meeting held Thursday, December 11th in the Cal/EPA Building in Sacramento, California.

A recording of this meeting is available at: https://waterboards.webex.com/waterboards/ldr.php?RCID=cb28a2d823c9e8cec8c723de24052af6

The State Water Board has hosted two public meetings (Los Angeles and Bakersfield) to commence the development of model criteria for groundwater monitoring related to oil and gas well stimulation treatments.

Meeting held Monday, August 25th in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chambers, in Los Angeles, California.

Meeting held Thursday August 7th, in the Kern County Supervisors Chambers, in Bakersfield, California

Well Operator Groundwater Monitoring Plans and Requests for Exemption from Groundwater Monitoring

DOGGR interim well stimulation regulations require well operators to submit a groundwater monitoring plan as part of their well stimulation treatment notices. A well operator may alternatively request an exclusion from the requirement to submit a groundwater monitoring plan if the absence of protected water can be demonstrated. If protected water is shown to be absent, the Water Boards will issue a letter of written concurrence to the well operator. The written concurrence letter is to be submitted by the well operator in their well stimulation treatment notice. Supporting documentation provided by the well operators to the Water Boards is available on the DOGGR Well Stimulation webpage.

Property Owner Requested Water Sampling and Designated Contractors

SB 4 requires copies of DOGGR-approved well stimulation treatment permits and information on available water sampling and testing to be provided to every owner or tenant whose property line location is:

  • Located within 1,500 feet of the well that is to undergo well stimulation treatment, or
  • Within 500 feet from the horizontal projection of all subsurface portions of the designated well to the surface.

In accordance with Public Resources Code (Pub. Resources Code), the notified party may request water quality sampling and testing on any water well or surface water suitable for drinking or irrigation, paid for by the owner/operator of the oil or gas well. Water samples can be collected for baseline measurements prior to the start of the well stimulation treatment (Pub. Resources Code, § 3160, subd. (d)(7)(A)).

Follow-up measurements (after well treatment stimulation) shall be on the same schedule as any pressure testing of the treated well's casing. If the operator does not conduct a pressure test on the treated well casing following well stimulation treatment, a follow-up water sample shall be made available at least once. This sampling and testing program is subject to audit and review by the State Water Board.

All water quality data collected as part of the property owner requested water sampling will be submitted to the State Water Board in an electronic format that is compatible with the State Water Board GeoTracker information system. Information regarding electronic submittal of water quality data is available on the Oil and Gas Groundwater Monitoring – Electronic Submittal Information webpage.

The State Water Board is required to designate one or more qualified independent third-party contractors to perform property owner requested water quality sampling and testing (Pub. Resources Code, § 3160, subd. (d)(7)(B)). If you have been contacted by a well operator and would like to have your water sampled by a designated contractor, please visit our List of Designated Contractors for Water Sampling.

To apply to become a designated contractor for water sampling, or if you are interested in learning more details, please visit: How to Become a Designated Contractor for Water Sampling

Water Board Requirements under SB4

SB 4 requires the Water Board(s) to:

  • Consult with DOGGR during DOGGR’s development of regulations for well stimulation treatments.
  • Enter into a formal agreement with DOGGR regarding roles and responsibilities in the regulation of well stimulation treatments.
  • Designate one or more qualified third-party contractors that adhere to board-specified standards and protocols to perform property owner requested water quality sampling and testing.
  • Audit and review sampling and testing conducted by the third-party contractor(s).
  • Develop model groundwater monitoring model criteria by July 1, 2015, in consultation with DOGGR and other stakeholders that outline the approach to be implemented for either well-by-well or regional scale groundwater monitoring.
  • Begin implementation of a regional groundwater monitoring program by January 1, 2016.

Useful Links

For More Information

envelope  Receive updates by email on well stimulation treatment related activities. Subscribe to our Oil and Gas Groundwater Monitoring (SB4) email list, located in the "Water Quality Topics" category.


Questions or Comments? Please contact us at OilandGas@waterboards.ca.gov or (916) 323-1308.