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Water Quality in Areas of Oil and Gas Production - Area Specific Monitoring


The methods for area-specific groundwater monitoring and exclusion from groundwater monitoring are outlined in the Model Criteria for Groundwater Monitoring in areas of Oil and Gas Well Stimulation (Model Criteria) to satisfy well operator permitting requirements for well stimulation on oil and gas wells pursuant to Public Resources Code section 3160. These methods do not apply to groundwater monitoring plans that were approved in connection with permits issued by the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) for well stimulation prior to the adoption of these Model Criteria in July 2015.

Area-specific groundwater monitoring shall be designed to characterize baseline water quality conditions and detect potential impacts to protected water from well stimulation treatments. A groundwater monitoring plan may be developed for multiple oil and gas wells to undergo stimulation if it is designed to sufficiently monitor protected water.

Sampling and Reporting Requirements

Area- Specific Groundwater Monitoring

For area-specific groundwater monitoring, the operator collects samples before well stimulation. Following well stimulation, samples are to be collected in a semi-annual basis. All groundwater monitoring data collected in accordance with an area-specific groundwater monitoring plan shall be submitted to the State Water Board in an electronic format and uploaded to the online GeoTracker groundwater information system following the guidelines detailed in California Code of Regulations, title 23, division 3, chapter 30 (commencing with section 3890).

Requests for Exclusion from Groundwater Monitoring

Area-specific groundwater monitoring related to well stimulation treatment on oil or gas wells is required, unless an operator has received written concurrence from Water Boards staff for an exclusion from the monitoring requirement (written concurrence).

An operator may seek written concurrence from Water Boards staff for a written concurrence where the operator can demonstrate the absence of protected water. Written concurrence may relate to a single proposed well to be stimulated, a group of proposed wells to be stimulated, or a geographic area.

Protected water is defined as:

  1. Water with less than 10,000 milligrams per liter (mg/L) of total dissolved solids (TDS), and
  2. Outside an exempt aquifer (meeting the criteria of Code of Federal Regulations, title 40, part 146.4).

Area-specific groundwater monitoring plans and requests for exclusion from groundwater monitoring must be submitted to GeoTracker for State Water Boards staff to review. For information about how to upload data refer to the Information in GeoTracker webpage.

Fact Sheets and Process Flow Charts