Texas Tech University

Groundwater District Seek Help Tracking Disposal Wells

My High Plains

July 29, 2015

My High Plains - Four years ago, a 64-year-old Dimmit County well spewed roughly 260 barrels of petroleum fluid that killed grasses and shrubs on surrounding ranchland. The likely cause, experts say: injections into a nearby disposal well, a deep underground resting place for millions of gallons of oil and gas waste. Injected at high pressures, the waste migrated below ground, putting pressure on fluids that leaked from the oil well more than a quarter-mile away.

"It feels like they don't want people to know," said Lisa Campbell, a Texas Tech University professor who heads public health departments across four South Texas counties and helped groundwater managers petition the Texas Railroad Commission to bolster notification requirements. "[Water] is a precious resource, and if we don't protect it, we're going to lose it."

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