Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

Panel heads underground

Webster Parish Drinking Water Protection Program Committee went underground at their meeting Thursday. Department of Natural Resources engineer Will Simon addressed concerns about Class II Saltwater Disposal (SWD) Wells raised at the previous meeting.

"It's highly regulated as you can imagine," Simon said. "There's nothing they can do to those wells that they don't come through us for some kind of permit. And if not, we've got penalties and enforcement people, and we go after them."

SWD wells are used to dispose of an oil and gas byproduct.

"You all know how oil and gas work," he said. "You get it out of the ground and it comes with all this brine, all this saltwater. It's a lot and you have to get rid of it."

According to Environmental Protection Agency, oil and gas brine often contains toxic or radioactive chemicals and is dangerous to discharge to surface water or land. Wells are drilled to inject the brine back into the formation from where it came or to another similar formation.

Simon said state regulations on SWD wells aim to protect underground sources of drinking water (USDW).

Because the wells are used to transmit brine from the surface to deep formations in the earth, he said the main thing DNR is looking for is the right pressure levels in the right places.

The concrete structure, or casing of the well is designed to prevent fluids exiting it too soon. Simon said his group tests pressures in the well to ensure no breaches have occurred or may occur.

Once brine reaches the desired depth, perforations in the casing allow it to leave the well.

According to Simon, DNR regulations require multiple layers of casings. To ensure fluids only leave the well where intended and do not travel back up the exterior of the casing walls and contaminate any USDW's.

"These wells are tested every three years by law, but we do them every year," he said. "We're very conservative here in Louisiana. We're not going to let them inject at crazy pressures."

In additional business, Department of Environmental Quality representative Tiffani Cravens discussed visiting businesses near drinking water wellheads that could be a significant source of contamination.

DEQ and the committee approach those businesses with an information packet.

"It's not an inspection," Cravens said. "It's strictly an educational visit to let them know things that they do at their place of business can impact the quality of water in their area."

For more information, contact DEQ Drinking Water Protection Team at www.deq.louisiana.gov/portal/PROGRAMS/DrinkingWaterProtectionProgram.aspx or call 225-219-3510.






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