Jasechko S, Perrone D. Hydraulic fracturing near domestic groundwater wells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2017 Nov 27. pii: 201701682. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1701682114.
Hydraulic fracturing operations are generating considerable discussion about their potential to contaminate aquifers tapped by domestic groundwater wells. Groundwater wells located closer to hydraulically fractured wells are more likely to be exposed to contaminants derived from on-site spills and well-bore failures, should they occur. Nevertheless, the proximity of hydraulic fracturing operations to domestic groundwater wells is unknown. Here, we analyze the distance between domestic groundwater wells (public and self-supply) constructed between 2000 and 2014 and hydraulically fractured wells stimulated in 2014 in 14 states. We show that 37% of all recorded hydraulically fractured wells stimulated during 2014 exist within 2 km of at least one recently constructed (2000-2014) domestic groundwater well. Furthermore, we identify 11 counties where most ([Formula: see text]50%) recorded domestic groundwater wells exist within 2 km of one or more hydraulically fractured wells stimulated during 2014. Our findings suggest that understanding how frequently hydraulic fracturing operations impact groundwater quality is of widespread importance to drinking water safety in many areas where hydraulic fracturing is common. We also identify 236 counties where most recorded domestic groundwater wells exist within 2 km of one or more recorded oil and gas wells producing during 2014. Our analysis identifies hotspots where both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells frequently exist near recorded domestic groundwater wells that may be targeted for further water-quality monitoring.