Dr. Amy Townsend-Small and her team at the University of Cincinnati conducted a study in Ohio testing private well water to see if methane gas from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is reaching drinking water. The short answer is no.
Townsend and her team set up their tests to measure well water before, during and after fracking began, unlike studies done in other regions, notes Kallanish Energy.
The study was conducted because of concern about possible contamination. The study lasted three years and tested 27 private wells between 35 to 115 meters underground 3-4 times per year, as reported by the Free Press Standard.
The combined test results only produced four samples that showed dangerous levels of methane. These wells were also located over 5 kilometers from active gas wells. Townsend’s study concludes results from those particular well can be attributed to coalbed gas and other organic carbon rather than due to hydraulic fracturing. The other samples all show very little to no increase in the amount of methane in the water supply. This is good news for those who rely on private wells rather than city water where testing is not done on a regular basis and fears of contamination due to fracking is great.
Future monitoring is still necessary, Townsend notes. An article by Midwestern Energy News noted that baseline testing, like that done in Townsend’s study, is helpful for homeowners in the cases of contamination, providing them with proof should the groundwater develop contamination. Nathan Wiser of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated that many wells in the U.S. have cemented casings below the groundwater table, but the casings do not fully reach the shale formation, which can allow a leak of natural gas to escape.