Texas Injection Wells Garner Increased Scrutiny

Injection Well
Injection Well

Injection wells* in the state of Texas are garnering increased scrutiny. In the past year, these wells have been linked to earthquakes, and now the state's water districts are taking a closer look at the potential impacts of injection wells on groundwater.

Read more: Earthquakes Linked to Disposal and Injection Wells - Video

The Gonzales County Underground Water Conservation District (GCUWCD) recently lost its fight with Marathon Oil Corporation over the company's plan to install an injection well in the Eagle Ford. In late May of 2014, at a Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) hearing, commissioners rejected the districts attempt to protest the permit, and gave Marathon the go-ahead to proceed with the injection well. The RRC's ruling was in response to an appeal by Marathon, after an agency hearing examiner's decision allowed the GCUWCD to protest the permit. The commissioners claimed the unanimous decision to dismiss the protest was based on the location of the well being outside the water district's area.

The GCUWCD remains concerned the injection well could potentially contaminate the underlying Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer. After the Railroad Commission made the decision to grant the permit, environmentalist groups sounded off.

This was a terrible decision by the Railroad Commission. Disposal of fracking waste poses serious risks to water quality and water districts should absolutely be allowed to participate in the permitting process. The Railroad Commission has a terrible track record of watchdogging the oil and gas industry and holding them accountable. Groundwater districts should have the right to scrutinize proposals to dump waste near drinking water supplies and demand strong safety standards. The Railroad Commission has become a runaway train, running down citizens rights, public health and the environment.
— Luke Metzger, with Environment Texas

At the hearing, a Marathon representative said the company was a committed "environmental steward", and stressed the importance of consistent and clear regulation of disposal wells. The Texas Railroad Commission has the explicit authority in the state of Texas to grant or deny drilling permits.

Tell us what you think about this decision. Did the RRC make the right move, or should the GCUWCD have been allowed to protest the permit?

Injection wells - generally a waste water disposal well, in which treated waste water is injected into the ground