Groundwater Monitoring Program for Oil and Gas Production Areas – SB 4
Stakeholder Meeting to Develop Model Groundwater Monitoring in Areas of Oil and Gas Production
Senate Bill 4 (SB 4) requires 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.
Starting January 2014, DOGGR interim well stimulation regulations were put in place to address immediate requirements for well operators, including groundwater monitoring. The "Interim Well Stimulation Regulations" and related material regarding SB 4 are available on the DOGGR Well Stimulation webpage.
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 exemption from groundwater monitoring if the absence of protected water can be demonstrated. If protected water is 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.
- Department of Conservation,Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) oversees the drilling, operation, maintenance, and plugging and abandonment of oil, natural gas, and geothermal wells in California.
- FracFocus is a national hydraulic fracturing registry that is primarily concerned with groundwater protection. FracFocus also provides information on hydraulic fracking regulations in all 50 states.
- Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) provides information about hydraulic fracturing and its environmental impacts. In addition, the EPA is currently studying the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. While the draft report is expected in 2014, a progress report outlining initial findings was released in December 2012.
- United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides information about the process of hydraulic fracturing and impacts of the use of hydraulic fracturing.
- Maps Depicting the Base of Fresh Water produced by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for the Southern San Joaquin Valley and for the Sacramento Valley.
- USGS reports on Geology of the Fresh Ground-Water Basin of the Central Valley, California, with Texture Maps and Sections and Geologic Features and Ground-Water Storage Capacity of the Sacramento Valley California, respectively.
- Department of Conservation report on The Effects of Oilfield Operations on Underground Sources of Drinking Water in Kern County.
- SWRCB Response Letter to Aera Energy Regarding Groundwater Monitoring Exemption
For More Information
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 Aaron Button at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (916) 341-5577.