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Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Gas Production - Well Stimulation


Groundwater Monitoring in Areas of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation

State Water Board developed and adopted Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring in areas of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation (Model Criteria) as part of the added requirements by Senate Bill 4 (Statutes of 2013) to the Water Code, section 10783.

The Model Criteria has three main components:

  1. Area Specific required groundwater monitoring near stimulation wells by operators
  2. Requirements for Designated Contractor Sampling and Testing
  3. Regional scale groundwater monitoring to be implemented by the State Water Board

In 2015, to satisfy one of the provisions of SB 4, State Water Board and the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) formed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to delineate the agencies respective authority, responsibilities, and notification and reporting requirements associated with well stimulation treatments and well stimulation treatment-related activities, including water quality monitoring.

In late 2013, State Water Board and CalGEM developed Emergency Interim Regulations which included Interim groundwater monitoring requirements. Effective January 1, 2014, well operators were required to submit either an approved groundwater monitoring plan or a letter from the State Water Board staff concurring that there is no protected water to monitor for their well stimulation permit. Operators who received well stimulation permits prior to July 1, 2015, shall follow the Emergency Interim Regulations to comply with the groundwater monitoring requirements for those stimulated wells.

As of July 2015, for any well(s) to be stimulated, a groundwater monitoring plan must be submitted to the State Water Board that follows the requirements under the Model Criteria where an operator can clearly show that protected water is not present, then an exclusion from groundwater monitoring may be granted.

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