On April 29, 2015, the State Water Resources Control Board (“Water Board”) issued a Notice of Opportunity for Public Comment and Notice of Public Workshop regarding the proposed Draft Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring (“Model Criteria”) for areas of oil and gas well stimulation. Senate Bill 4 requires groundwater monitoring for all oil and gas wells that receive stimulation treatments.

The Model Criteria will be used by (1) the Water Board to implement a regional groundwater monitoring program, and (2) oil and gas operators and Water Board staff in the development of groundwater monitoring near well stimulation activities. These Model Criteria outline the methods to be used for sampling, testing, and reporting the water quality associated with oil and gas well stimulation activities.

The groundwater monitoring data will be used to initially establish baseline condition prior to well stimulation. Thereafter, Water Board staff will evaluate data and test results to determine changes in water quality and whether additional monitoring requirements or corrective actions are necessary.

Monitoring is only required for oil and gas well stimulation that penetrate groundwater of current or future “beneficial use.” Protected water of current and future beneficial use is defined as:

The proposed draft Model Criteria were developed in consultation with the Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, Regional Water Boards, public stakeholders, and technical experts. A proposed final draft Model Criteria will be made available for a 10-day public comment period beginning June 19, 2015.

A public information workshop will be held on May 19, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. in the Coastal Hearing Room of the CalEPA Headquarters Building, located at 1001 I Street, Second Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814. Written comments must be submitted to the Water Board prior to 12:00 p.m. (noon) on May 29, 2015. Comments can be emailed or mailed to Jeanine Townsend, Clerk of the Water Board, State Water Resources Control Board, 1001 I Street, 24th Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.

For more information on the Draft Model Criteria and related documents, please visit the Water Board’s website.

By Mike Mills (michael.mills@stoel.com) and Eric Skanchy (eric.skanchy@stoel.com).