Fouled Well Test Results Expected Soon

(Gillette, Wyo.) The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has completed its testing of private wells around Carlile and will be releasing results to the public by the end of the month, said DEQ spokesperson Keith Guille.

Last October, the DEQ held a public meeting in Moorcroft over concerns of wells running dry and the water rising in acidity. At the time, they were seeking permission from private well owners to test the water in their wells in hopes of determining the source of the problems.

These problems began after the city used hydraulic fracturing stimulation to increase the water production at the wells in the Madison Field, which supplies water to the City of Gillette. The process uses water, sand, and a small amount of chemicals, which include acidic chemicals.

There’s no conclusive proof the problems with the wells in the area are related to the city’s activity at the Madison well fields. It is one of many possible causes, and it’s unclear whether the source of the problems will ever be determined for certain.

Michael Cranston has a well right near the well fields. Last summer, his well went dry. He drilled new wells, only to have the water come out with an acidic taste to it.

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There are four houses near Cranston’s, and he said they all lost water. They’ve since been drilling new wells and hauling their own water. He said the water around the area used to be clean and clear, and they never had problems before last summer.

“I remember when I was young, I used to watch the deer come in and drink. Now they won’t go near it,” he said.

At the time of the October meeting in Moorcroft, the DEQ said testing would take four to six weeks. A total of 53 private wells were tested, according to Guille.

Guille said the testing was all done in-house, and the technicians can only test about a well or two a day. And that can only be done after coordinating with the landowners for permission to test the well.

“It takes time to do,” he said.

Originally from New Mexico, Killough began his career writing freelance for a weekly magazine in Albuquerque while completing his undergraduate degree. In addition to reporting on uranium mining in western New Mexico, he spent three years reporting in western North Dakota during the height of the oil boom. He can be reached at kevin@county17.com or 701-641-6603.