November 10, 2016
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Today the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released its final report and palatability study on domestic water wells in the rural area east of Pavillion, Wyoming. The DEQ final report is available at http://deq.wyoming.gov/wqd/pavillion-investigation/. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) earlier issued reports on well bore integrity of all oil and natural gas exploration and production wells within 1420 feet of fourteen domestic water wells identified for further investigation and the status and reclamation of historic production pits in the Pavillion Field. In its final report, the DEQ evaluated the data, conclusions and recommendations contained in the WOGCC’s reports, which are available at http://wogcc.state.wy.us/pavillion_wrk_grp.cfm. The WOGCC and DEQ retained the services of independent experts to assist staff with the reviews, investigations, analyses and preparation of final reports.
On June 30, 2013, with the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the State of Wyoming announced it would further investigate drinking water quality for the Pavillion oil and natural gas field. As part of the State’s investigation, thirteen domestic water wells were further evaluated, including two additional rounds of sampling, for water quality and palatability concerns. In its review the DEQ considered all relevant data for each of the thirteen domestic water wells and the sampling data obtained throughout EPA’s groundwater investigation.
WDEQ and WOGCC will work with EPA, Encana and other stakeholders to determine next steps.
“From the beginning I have believed it was in everyone’s best interest – particularly for those citizens concerned about their water – that Wyoming and the EPA reach an unbiased and scientifically supportable conclusion. I commend the work of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, and the experts they engaged for the thoughtful and productive manner with which they conducted their investigations,” said Governor Mead.
The controversy surrounding the Pavillion gas field highlighted the importance of collecting baseline water quality data and proper water quality information and education. In 2013, the WOGCC enacted groundwater baseline sampling, analysis and monitoring requirements, which require oil and gas operators to test existing water sources before and after drilling an oil or gas well. Landowners must give consent for operators to sample the permitted or adjudicated water sources. These sources include domestic, stock, industrial, irrigation, municipal or other permitted uses of water.
To date, the State of Wyoming has spent $929,268 for the design, construction and installation of residential cistern systems and a water loading station in the Town of Pavillion. A total of 31 cisterns for 28 landowners have been installed. In 2014, Wyoming committed $400,000 to pay for water delivery to those cisterns. For those landowners not participating in the cistern program, a bottled water delivery program was available and has been extended through March 31, 2017. The delivery program is provided to 11 homeowners.