Oil and Gas Operation - Water Quality

The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (Regional Water Boards) have the statutory responsibility to protect the waters of California and to preserve all present and future beneficial uses of those waters.

One area of focus is the protection of waters in relation to oil and gas production activities. The State Water Board and the Regional Water Boards are working in conjunction with the Department of Conservation's Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) to monitor and address issues relating to oil and gas operations and their impacts on surface and groundwater resources.

DOGGR oversees the drilling, operation, maintenance, and plugging and abandonment of oil, natural gas, and geothermal wells. DOGGR is also the regulatory agency responsible for preventing damage to underground and surface waters from oil and gas production activities. The State Water Board assists DOGGR with the protection of water resources, and the Los Angeles Regional Water Board is working to make sure operators of oil and gas operations located within Los Angeles and Ventura counties are adhering to all regulations associated with groundwater and surface water protection.

Current issues the Los Angeles Regional Water Board is addressing:

  • Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring in Areas of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation:
  • Specified in California Water Code Section 10783 (Senate Bill 4, Pavley Statues of 2013), the State Water Board has developed and adopted (July 2015) model criteria for groundwater monitoring of oil and gas well stimulation activities.Click here to see all Orders and Directives associated with the Model Criteria

  • Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program:
  • Injection wells, which carry and permanently place fluids underground, are a potential groundwater contamination source if not properly sited, constructed and maintained. Injection wells are regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under the authority of the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program.Click here to see all Orders and Directives associated with the UIC Program.

  • Sumps and Storage Ponds:
  • Lined and unlined pits or ponds that hold oil and gas production byproducts such as drilling fluids and produced water. Produced water accounts for the largest waste stream volume associated with oil and gas production and can contain high levels of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, metals, boron, radionuclides, and other hazardous chemicals. Click here to see all Orders and Directives associated with Sumps and Storage Ponds.

More Information

State Water Board Groundwater Monitoring for Oil and Gas Well Stimulation; and Activities Associated with Underground Injection Control (UIC):
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/groundwater/sb4/index.shtml 
Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring in Areas of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation Fact Sheet: 
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/groundwater/sb4/docs/model_criteria_fact_sheet.pdf 
Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources:
http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/Pages/Index.aspx

Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources Well Stimulation page:
http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dog/Pages/WST.aspx

GeoTracker
http://geotracker.waterboards.ca.gov/

If you have any questions about the State Water Board and the Regional Water Board's roles in protecting California's waters when it comes to oil and gas production, please contact Andrew DiLuccia, Public Information Officer, State Water Resources Control Board, at (916) 324-4775 or andrew.diluccia@waterboards.ca.gov