CARROLLTON, Ohio — Scientists from the University of Cincinnati will conduct groundwater sampling from privately owned wells this May to investigate the impacts of fracking on water quality in eastern Ohio.
The research team will be traveling to various eastern Ohio counties, including Carroll, Columbiana, Harrison, Belmont, Noble and Guernsey, to take groundwater samples. Study participants with private groundwater wells are greatly needed in these areas and are encouraged to participate.
Sampling trips are scheduled for the weekends of May 16, May 23, and May 30. The sampling process is free to the homeowner, confidential, and takes less than 15 minutes to complete. The scientists will also be available to answer questions about any previous water testing results that homeowners may have.
University of Cincinnati assistant professor of Geology Amy Townsend-Small, PhD, is leading the study, which is funded by the non-profit Deer Creek Foundation and Alice Weston Foundation.
Initially taking place only in Carroll County, the project examines methane and other components in groundwater wells during the onset of drilling for natural gas in the region. As drilling continues to expand through Ohio, groundwater samples from a larger geographic range are needed to assess fracking effects on a regional scale.
Dr. Townsend-Small and her team are currently monitoring about 20 groundwater wells at varying distances from fracking sites in the Utica Shale region of Ohio.
“Studies in the Marcellus Shale drilling area of Pennsylvania have found that some groundwater wells near fracking sites have high concentrations of methane derived from natural gas,” Townsend-Small said.
“But these studies never analyzed groundwater before the onset of fracking. Because fracking has only just begun in Ohio, we have an opportunity to make baseline measurements of methane in water wells.”
In addition to methane, the water samples are analyzed for pH, conductivity, and total organic carbon and nitrogen content. Analysis also includes stable isotope measurements of methane, which can indicate whether methane is produced by naturally occurring bacteria in the soil or whether it is derived from natural gas.
Participants in the study are informed of their testing results upon completion of analysis.