Fracking has been the subject of both political conflict and scientific inquiry in recent months. Fracking bans were on the ballot in eight local elections this year, with four passing, including three in California and a high-profile campaign in Texas. Meanwhile, scientists have highlighted the need to come up with better techniques for treating fracking wastewater and identified poor well construction as the main cause of gas-contaminated groundwater.
In Colorado, there is a new focus on gathering data about groundwater pollution to inform the public debate on fracking. In an editorial, the Denver Post welcomed the expansion of a program, led by Colorado State University, to provide real-time monitoring of groundwater quality. The editorial board noted, “There is no substitute for hard data gathered by an impartial source.”
The Colorado Water Watch program uses a network of sensors near oil and gas fields to measure water composition, based on parameters like temperature, pH, and electrical conductivity. The data is then analyzed and posted online, in real time, in order to promote public awareness. There are currently five different sites being monitored.
The program is a collaborative effort. While CSU is the only group that actually handles the data, a number of government, industry and environmental groups are also involved to provide guidance. Among these groups are the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Noble Energy, and Western Resource Advocates.
Written by Stratecon Staff