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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 7:36 am | Fair 42º


Williams Introduces Assembly Bill to Protect Underground Water

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Carpinteria, on Tuesday introduced Assembly Bill 356, which would require groundwater monitoring near Class II injection wells in order to protect underground sources of drinking water from oil and gas wastewater disposal and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) treatments.

The bill would provide the State Water Resources Control Board the authority to review groundwater monitoring plans as part of oil companies' permit application or notice of intent for injection wells.

“We cannot continue to jeopardize the quality of one of our most precious natural resources," Williams said. "My priority with this bill is the safety of Californians. We cannot gamble the quality of safe drinking water, especially when the state is experiencing the worst drought in nearly four decades.”

The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources disclosed on Feb. 6 that 2,500 wells — more than 2,000 of which are active — currently are permitted to inject gas and oil waste or other fluids into protected sources of drinking water, in violation of the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Among those wells, 490 are used for disposal of oil and gas waste water, and 1,987 are for the injection of fluids or steam for enhanced oil recovery (EOR).

"Oil and gas industry wastewater disposal and enhanced recovery processes are in desperate need of more oversight from the state's water quality experts," said Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action. "In this time of extreme drought, the stakes are higher than ever to prevent contamination at the hands of the oil industry. AB356 will ensure that injection projects are properly permitted going forward and prevent the injection of toxic chemicals into our drinking water sources."

Senate Bill 4 (Pavley, 2013) already requires groundwater monitoring for wells that receive stimulation treatments, such as fracking or acidizing. AB 356 would mirror and build on the SB 4 program to protect the aquifers that may be impacted by injection wells.

— Anett Hurtado is a field representative for Assemblyman Das Williams.


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