An Overview of Baseline Sampling Guidelines for Unconventional Resource Development

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 9:20 AM
Jenna S Kromann, Stephen D Richardson, Ann P Smith, Lisa Molofsky and John A Connor, GSI Environmental Inc., Houston, TX, United States
The boom in shale gas development in the United States and abroad has led to increased concern regarding its potential impact on local drinking water resources. In response, many state agencies and local municipalities have issued draft or final guidelines/regulations for various aspects of shale gas operations. In most cases, these guidelines specify mandatory or voluntary baseline (pre-drill) sampling of proximate water supplies (e.g., residential water wells, springs, seeps, ponds) to establish baseline water quality prior to drilling activities. Currently, 16 state and several national agencies, regional and local organizations in United States have developed regulations or guidelines for baseline sampling. In addition, other countries (e.g., Canada, New Zealand) have developed guidance through provincial and regional authorities. Comparison of recommended practices for baseline sampling shows considerable variation with respect to sampling requirements (e.g., locations, number of samples, timeframe, frequency); sampling methodology, recommended analytical suite, analytical methods, action levels, and reporting requirements. Current baseline sampling guidelines and regulations in the United States and abroad highlights the need for a sound scientific basis for baseline sampling programs.