About the Map
The FracTracker Alliance has been working with nine different community partners on a project to map instances where oil and gas activity are suspect of impacting groundwater supplies in the United States. The US Map of Suspected Well Water Impacts is now ready for its initial release, and consists of the following data layers:
- Visitor Submitted Impacts. This layer consists of viewer submitted form data describing suspected incidents of groundwater contamination by oil and gas extraction and related industries. The locations have been determined using the centroids or geometric center-points of the zip code in which the suspected incident occurred. If you are aware of additional incidents, please submit them here.
- Pipeline Incidents Contaminating Groundwater. This data layer includes hazardous liquid pipeline incidents that were indicated as resulting in groundwater contamination between 1/1/2010 and 3/29/2013. The data were obtained by the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The data have been altered by the FracTracker Alliance in that it only includes incidents leading to groundwater contamination, and by the removal of several dozen columns of data about the incident for the sake of brevity. There are 30 incidents on this list.
- NRDC Suspected Contamination Events. Amy Mall of the Natural Resources Defense Council compiled a list of 37 incidents where hydraulic fracturing is suspected of contributing to groundwater contamination. The list was compiled in December 2011, and each entry is linked to news reports of the event. This layer was mapped by the FracTracker Alliance based on the centroids or geographic center-points of the municipality, county, or state of the incident, depending on the best information available.
- List of the Harmed Suspected Water Incidents. Jenny Lisak, co-director of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, maintains a list of people claiming to be harmed by hydraulic fracturing or related processes, called the List of the Harmed (LotH). This data layer is based on the February 23, 2013 update of the list, and contains only the events in which water is the suspected exposure pathway. This data was mapped by the FracTracker Alliance based on the centroids or geographic center-points of the municipality, county, or state of the incident, depending on the best information available.
- NM Pit Contamination Events. This layer consists of events where the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division determined that substances from oil and gas pits contaminated groundwater. Altogether, there are 369 incidents included in the data. The document on which this map was based was published in 2008. This data was mapped by the FracTracker Alliance based on the centroids or geographic center-points of the PLSS section, meaning that the points should be accurate within 0.72 miles.
US Map of Suspected Well Water Impacts – Version 1
It is important to note that the standard for inclusion in the map is simply whether or not someone suspects that well water has been impacted by oil and gas extraction-related activity. Specifically, items on the Visitor Submitted Impacts, NRDC Suspected Contamination Events, and List of the Harmed Suspected Water Incidents should be thought of as perceived impacts by oil and gas activity, not confirmed ones. The NRDC and LotH lists were built with links to one or more media reports about the event.
On the other hand, the New Mexico document on which the pit contamination event layer was built simply says, “Cases Where Pit Substances Contaminated New Mexico’s Ground Water,” and it is worth noting that it was published by a state regulatory agency. Likewise, the PHMSA pipeline data is published by an administration within the US Department of Transportation. Between these two layers, there are 399 incidents with the authority of a regulatory agency behind them.
Future versions of this map can be found on the project’s landing page.