Our Drinking Water at Risk from Coalbed Methane Production?

It was reported in Trinidad a few years back that a vehicle servicing the Oil and Gas Industry leaked chemicals on the ground. Hazmat was called to the scene to do a clean up of a spill of hydrochloric acid. Seems that hydrochloric acid is used in the fracking of Coalbed Methane wells.

From Earthworks


Often an oil- or gas-bearing formation may contain large quantities of oil or gas, but have a poor flow rate due to low permeability, or from damage or clogging of the formation during drilling. This is particularly true for tight sands, oil shales and coalbed methane.  Hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking, which rhymes with cracking) is a technique used to create fractures that extend from the well bore into rock or coal formations. These fractures allow the oil or gas to travel more easily from the rock pores, where the oil or gas is trapped, to the production well. Typically, in order to create fractures a mixture of water, proppants (sand or ceramic beads) and chemicals is pumped into the rock or coal formation.

Eventually, the formation will not be able to absorb the fluid as quickly as it is being injected. At this point, the pressure created causes the formation to crack or fracture.  The fractures are held open by the proppants, and the oil or gas is then able to flow through the fractures to the well. Some of the fracturing fluids are pumped out of the well and into surface pits or tanks during the process of extracting oil, gas and any produced water, but studies have shown that anywhere from 20-40% of fracing fluids may remain underground.

Acidizing involves pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acid), into the formation. The acid dissolves some of the rock material so that the rock pores open and fluid flows more quickly into the well. Fracking and acidizing are sometimes performed simultaneously, in an acid fracture treatment.


Its pretty scary to know that a chemical that is treated this seriously by Hazmat is being injected into our ground and can polute our ground water since many Methane Gas Wells in Las Animas County are being drilled in the same depths as our water wells are in. What kind of other chemicals are used in the fracking and CoalBed Methane drilling process?

Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals – Coalbed fracture treatments use anywhere from 50,000 to 350,000 gallons of various stimulation and fracturing fluids, and from 75,000 to 320,000 pounds of proppant during the hydraulic fracturing of a single well. Many fracturing fluids contain chemicals that can be toxic to humans and wildlife, and chemicals that are known to cause cancer. These include potentially toxic substances such as diesel fuel, which contains benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide. Very small quantities of chemicals such as benzene, which causes cancer, are capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water.

This information was shared by Earthworks and we suggest if you would like to know more about this topic that you start your research here "Hydraulic Fracturing 101"

In Las Animas County since the aquifers are said to be 2000 feet deep or deeper most of the ground water for our water wells comes from 1000 feet deep and higher and is in underground streams or seams that hold water. There have been reports locally where water wells have gone dry shortly after Coalbed Methane wells were drilled up to 1/2 mile away. In the process their water cistern was filled full of milky fluids and concrete residue while the drilling was going on.

To say that Coalbed Methane drilling does not affect our water sources I guess you could ask the family near Highway 12 that had water shooting up 3-4 foot our of their water well for two days as a coalbed methane gas well was being drilled over a 1/4 mile away. If these chemicals are being used in the drilling and fracking process would you think that it is possible that they would also be in this persons water well without them knowing it?

So my question to you is if these kinds of Chemicals are being injected into the ground to frack Coalbed Methane wells and your water wells just happens to be in the same underground streams just how long to you think it will take to get into your water well? We are not talking years or month or weeks, we are talking more like minutes.

There are a number of cases in the U.S. where hydraulic fracturing is the prime suspect in incidences of impaired or polluted drinking water. In Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, incidents have been recorded in which residents have reported changes in water quality or quantity following fracturing operations of gas wells near their homes

Read the Amos and Hocutt landowner stories for two accounts of water contamination that occurred following hydraulic fracturing events. ( as shared on Earthworks )

So how do you protect yourself from this? You could monitor your water well with tests each year for quality, but most people don’t monitor their water wells that often so even a yearly test is not qoing to protect you. Maybe you should be monitoring it your well daily if you think that is possible or practical which it isn’t of course.

Is Las Animas County allowing our Ground water to be poluted and or contaminated? We have the right to know don’t we? Who are we supposed to trust to look after our well being in these matters? This is a serious concern that is being overlooked.

We recommend that you read this PDF document "Our Drinking Water at Risk" for more information and to do further research.

When was the last time you had your water well quality checked?