WHEREAS Alberta Environment has announced a new program where they will be developing standard procedures and reporting requirements for baseline testing of well water before drilling for coalbed methane to ensure Albertans continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water;AND WHEREAS by developing standard procedures and reporting for baseline testing of well water, water quality will be established prior to methane drilling;AND WHEREAS safe, clean drinking water is a resource that is vital to all life and standards and reporting should be in place to protect all Albertans;AND WHEREAS municipalities support and applaud this initiative by the Provincial Government, however, believe that baseline testing of water wells should be a standard requirement for all oil and gas drilling or seismic activities throughout the entire Province and should not only apply to the drilling for coalbed methane;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Alberta Municipal Districts and Counties request Alberta Environment to include all oil and gas drilling and all seismic operations when they develop standard procedures and reporting requirements for baseline testing of well water.
On March 6th, 2006, the Provincial Government, through a new release announced that they would be developing standard procedures and reporting requirements for baseline testing of well water to establish water quality prior to coalbed methane drilling.The County of Grande Prairie No. 1 has recognized the need for such a set of standards and especially for baseline testing of well water before drilling activities for oil and gas occur. Several times ratepayers have brought to the County’s attention situations where the oil and gas industry have been suspect in problems with water wells after drilling had commenced or after seismicoperations had been conducted in close proximity. Through the procedures and requirements that are currently in place ratepayers have not been satisfied with the outcomes of their water wells issues.The County is also aware of cases where the oil and gas industry have chosen to replace the water well rather than go through the current reporting practice thereby avoiding recording the issues that are actually happening.The County totally supports the initiative of Alberta Environment to establish the standard procedures and reporting requirements for baseline testing, however, we believe that they have not gone far enough in this initiative. Water wells are being affected by all industry drilling, not just coalbed methane. To establish the baseline water well testing for all Albertans is a positive step in protecting water well quality and ensuring that Albertans continue to have access to clean, safe drinking water.The attached Well Water Safety Backgrounder that was a part of the Government News Release and all aspects of the drilling that relate to coalbed methane drilling could also be applied to all oil and gas drilling, as well as to seismic operations.
In regard to baseline water-well testing, a new Standard for Baseline Water-Well Testing for Coalbed Methane Operations came into effect on May 1, 2006. The Standard requires baseline testing of water wells prior to the drilling and completion of coalbed methane wells, (which are completed above the base of groundwater protection). The base of groundwater protection is the depth below which groundwater has a total dissolved solids concentration greater than 4000 milligrams per litre (and is considered to be saline). The AAMDC will include the issue of baseline testing for ALL oil and gas drilling or seismic operations (not just for coalbed methane operations) in future ministerial meeting submissions to Alberta Environment.