Well Water And Ground Disturbance

Having your well water tested on a regular basis can protect you in court. Fracking activities such as gas and oil drilling, and other ground disturbances could contaminate your well. Private well water quality is not regulated in the United States, so well owners are responsible for their own monitoring.

Karen Mancl is an Extension water quality specialist at the Ohio State University. When she was at Penn State University back in the 1980s, there was a lot of gas and oil drilling activity. Many well owners in these areas had their wells tested before activities commenced, so when their wells were compromised, she says there wasn’t much argument from the gas and oil companies.

"They had the evidence that we had a good well and now it’s not," says Mancl. "And we also had information on rainwater cisterns with a very specific fix and a very specific cost, and the gas and oil companies would just go ahead and not waste money in court and pay for a rainwater cistern to replace the well that somebody lost. You know, if you don’t have the evidence, you don’t have much of a case."

If you’re worried that your well water is contaminated by somebody else’s activity, don’t collect the water sample yourself. Mancl says you should always use a certified lab to test the water.

"You would need someone called a “disinterested third party”. Sometimes the lab will send out a technician to collect the sample, or maybe someone from the local extension office, or the local health department can collect a sample," she says. "Depending upon what the concerns are, we have a list of things that you should test for."